I. At spin.
It's my one year spinniversary this summer, twelve months ago I tiptoed into the gym and took a bike in the back and sweated my guts out and tried to act like I wasn't a total newbie and at the end I hyperventilated and thought "well, at least I can say I did it once."
But now I can say I've done it every week. More than once. For an entire year. (Besides doing high school swim team for all 4 years, I consider this my big athletic accomplishment.)
"We're celebrating the hardest part!" Julianna says as she starts the music. "Just showing up!"
And even better? I can say there's community here. I always thought gyms were intimidating, hard, all yelling and drill sergeants. (Maybe I just avoid these classes.) But it's a place I like to go, because of these folks. We are a little work-out family, in our laughter, our hard work, singing along to the music, dressing up for holidays, recognizing faces and learning names. There are regulars, but anyone can be a regular. Anyone can join in. I did.
"I am so happy to see you guys today!" Julianna calls as the song begins to play.
And I'm so happy I keep showing up.
II. Via e-mail.
Some of my dear family friends from home are going through something really hard right now. It's all come as a shock, and I find myself wishing I was closer by, to comfort, to love, to simply be nearer in the midst of turmoil. I consider these friends to be family.
Over the last several months, an e-mail group has sprung up, forged by the many folks who love our friends and seek updates whenever they come. I read the messages twice, at least, taking in the newest information, praying with my eyes. And then I always stray up to the top, to the list of e-mail addresses receiving the news.
I gaze at them hungrily, and where strangers might see so many @ signs and dot-coms, I see real people, compassionate souls. Friends and family that I know and love who know and love this family. I revel in the names, in the hope that each one gives me, the face of a beloved. I rejoice in the knowledge that we are bound together in this, for them, grateful for the depth and determination of names on a virtual envelope. All loving, all praying, all so much more together.
III. In a faraway kitchen.
I see their bright faces from the window as they get out of the cars, carrying sleeping bags and suitcases. Our friend is getting married, thousands of miles from where most of us live, and we have flown and driven and ferried our way to meet up for the bachelorette festivities two days before the big shebang.
I see their faces through the window, grinning, waving, and they come through the door one by one and the house explodes in reuniting, in history, in memory and present. In our whoops of joy we are all at once the shiny 18-year-old freshmen we were, and the fulfilledconfusedsadhappy 25-year-olds we are. This is back from summer break, but more. This is embracing with meaning, laughing with love, dropping borders that we keep up for the real world, eyes bright over big-life celebrations that are here and happening, no more dorm room daydreams, strong women gathered because we wouldn't miss this, or each other, for the world.