Then we'd go out and get a dose of our friends, it's like it just filled me up. The complications of everything else would fall away, and I'd just be wrapped in the experience of old friends. All this time has passed since I've seen many of them, and so much has changed in so many ways, and yet...it would be like no time had passed at all. The friendships, the closeness, the sarcasm, the ribbing, the love...all of it was there as if we'd never left. And there is just nothing like those kids of friendships - the kind where you've watched each other grow up, you've watched each other fall and screw up and learn and grow. And here we all are as adults - with kids and homes and families and responsibilities - and we all felt so proud of each other - look how far we'd come - look at all we've accomplished.
Meeting new friends in new cities is wonderful. There is so much diversity and wisdom and there are all of these common interests - and I love that. And even though there might not be all of that in old friends, there is...well, it feels like family. These people get me. They knew me when. They loved me then and they still love me, just because I am me. We may differ in our views, in our lifestyles, in our parenting...and it's all okay because we knew each other when - the love, the bond, the friendship is there, no matter how much time passes. It feels amazing to be accepted like that.
I am so glad we got to be in St. Louis for a month. I had some really difficult struggles while we were there, many of which are still happening. There is a big rift in my family of origin now that wasn't there before - or at least, I wasn't aware of it. And I had some really amazing times with my in-laws - they feel so much more like my family now, supporting us and loving us through these struggles and others that they've known about. And the times spent with friends - we get to see so little of our friends usually on our trips to St. Louis - most of our time is spent with family. To see all of these wonderful friends again that we've only seen on Facebook for so many years - it was a gift I'll cherish for a long long time. To feel that much love, to receive and give that many hugs, to be welcomed back with open arms and so many, "So when are you moving back here?"s....
It did make me wax nostalgic. What would it be like to return after all these years? The city itself has changed so much - it's grown up and taken pride in itself. There is still an angry edge to it - racial tensions run high there and it feels very divided in ways - and in other ways it has become more self-aware. It's as if St. Louis took a personal growth course and is beginning to find itself. It is greener, in all ways, and it is working toward more growth and self-love. People are finally proud to say they live there, and rightfully so. St. Louis has this amazing thing about it - its people. Nowhere have I found such a unique and dynamic blend of people so full of love and acceptance and sarcasm and edginess.
Choosing where to put ourselves is very difficult at times. We have a list of criteria which Portland meets beautifully, and has the potential to meet completely. Deep friendships take time to develop - we've got some developing here now, and the depth will just take time. And then in St. Louis there is family and friends - long-time friends who have known us through it all. It can be a conundrum, can't it?
In the meanwhile, we're about to go and house-sit for a month and be reunited with our sweet little cat, Frenzie. I suspect this will be a month of deep reflection indeed.