probably to my dad's dismay, i am infinitely happier when i'm with friends. you see, he is a solitary man: a cowboy, a pilot, a motorcyclist, a horseman, a thinker. it's an attribute i've always respected, revered and been woefully jealous of.
i, to my dismay*, am a social butterfly. although i am not too great with crowds anymore (thanks, PTSD), i do enjoy the company of friends, family and even the occasional frenemy.
this is no revelation. i've always enjoyed company, but, over the past few years, i've lived a life of solitaire and found that it is not my cup of tea. after college, i moved to the little mountain town of Salida, Colorado. the move was strategic to surviving my upcoming life in Africa. i knew that it would be nearly impossible to leave 25+ friends in Austin all at once, so i left Austin early for a baby-step towards the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer - alone and in the wilderness.
there, as you all know, i met a man named Ryan O'Brien and his boy, Fisher O'Brien; those two changed my life, incalculably. i fell in love with them both and believed that my life, before and after Peace Corps, was going to be happy-ever-after there in the banana belt of the Rockies.
in Africa, i was isolated but quickly made friends with a handful of the best people i've ever known. Megan Pilli in particular. we met in Philadelphia, two of the prettiest and calmest people at the staging event, and shared a dinner we'll never forget, cocktails we wish we could remember and, although we probably already forgotten who was with us, we never forgot about that moment when we knew.
we were placed 100s of miles apart in Mali; it took days to arrive for a visit and days to recover from the journey, but it was always worth it. she, too, changed me. my perspective. my heart.
then, in village, i was quick to befriend my my host family and one in particular, Dabi Sidibe. he held my hand, stared at the stars with me, learned to speak with me, learned to eat with me. he woke me up in the mornings and walked about the hills of Africa in the afternoons. we chased goats, got chased by birds and saved each other's lives on more than one occasion. Dabi sparked in me something i hadn't felt before - that animal instinct to be a mother. it is a beautiful, overwhelming feeling. i'll forever be indebted to Dabi and my host family. the beautiful Sidibes of Mourgoula.
after the attack in Africa, i withdrew. from everyone, including myself. trust was difficult, as was an everyday trip to the grocery store. i fell apart and with me fell my engagement, my mind and my life.
at the first chance to leave Salida, after healing from all my medical woes following Peace Corps, i jumped and took off, blindly, for the Pacific Northwest. i live alone, i work alone, i eat, sleep, walk, talk, read, cook, smile, cry, am alone.
i spent the first part of this weekend with a dear friend, Vicki. we met through "work" and since our first encounter, have been tossing wry and witty remarks back and forth, laughing at those we find sufficiently funny and enjoying the company of just another hilarious heroine.
the middle part of the weekend was spent having lunch with Davey and his girlfriend, Kaila. we ate at the most famous clam chowder shop in Seattle and enjoyed the delights of laughter and planning for New Years.
the train was delayed by nearly 2 hours and i couldn't have been less troubled. for the first time in weeks, months even, i felt ok. happy.
i do, truly, get by with a little help from my friends.
thank you for keeping in touch, for keeping me afloat, for keeping me in mind.
this holiday, i hope you know that i am thankful for You.
*i have dramatically feared butterflies since a very early age - the age of toddling about.