When I was 17 I met a boy I would end up dating for just over 5 years. Two months after I broke things off with him (for a large number of reasons) I learned that he had been steadily cheating on me for those 5 years and that he had been seeing another girl for 2 years before our break-up.
I remember distinctly walking home after learning of his treachery and thinking to myself that I could either decide that all men were utter schmucks and none could be trusted, or I could decide that each was different and that risking love again might be worthwhile.
History shows that I was right to risk again. And then right to risk a third time or I wouldn’t be married to the amazing man who shares my bed today.
A few years ago (long after the boy kinds of heartbreaks had stopped happening) I live tweeted one of my awesome mothers’ group speaker meetings and a blogger, who I’m pretty sure had never crossed my radar before, tweeted at me.
“Your mothers’ group sounds awesome. Can I join?”
I thought she was joking, but a quick glance at her Twitter stream and blog showed that she had recently arrived to the area.
I tweeted back “We meet every other Wednesday and we’d love to have you!”
Such an innocuous tweet. Amazing that I remember the exchange so clearly among the hundred similar exchanges I have every week. But this exchange lead to the blogger coming to our next meeting, then to coffee with me, then lunch, and so on until we’d easily shared a million other coffees and lunches.
Two years later that blogger is one of my very best friends. We’ve spent countless hours sharing life stories, encouragement, business ideas, parenting advice, business plans, and giggles, many, many giggles.
This past week, that blogger-come-best-friend loaded up her car with the last of her family’s belongings, sent her kids to the airport with her father, and, with her husband as co-pilot, started driving to Texas.
The Bay Area is one of the most beautiful, amazing places to live. The weather is incredible. The people are smart. The resources mind-boggling. But Silicon Valley is also a vicious, brutal mistress who pulls you in, makes you fall in love with her, and then yanks the wool from your eyes. Life here is expensive, jobs are hard to come by, and it’s not always possible for even the Bay’s most passionate fans to find a way to live here forever.
Because of this, over the last 11 years, I’ve lost more friends to more benevolent climes (damn you Texas!!) than I can count on one hand. Because of this I’ve tried to only befriend people who have bought homes here, tentative proof that they’re at least trying to make a long term go of it here.
I broke that rule for this blogger and so I cried hot tears all week as they wound their way south.
I spent the week in a fog of sadness. Every coffee shop, restaurant, park that we’d ever been to drove home again the thought that they were gone for good and brought new tears to the surface.
Yesterday, as I was once again drying my eyes and wondering just how long this sadness would last, as I was once again reiterating my promise to myself to only befriend those who were here forever, I started reading the first chapter of Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.
Now, if you’re new here, you might not know of my slight obsession with Brené Brown. She’s a researcher who, on her quest to better understand shame and how it affects people, discovered the importance of living a wholehearted life.
Brené has taught me in the past that you can’t experience great joy if you don’t open yourself to also experiencing great sadness. The brief chapter that I read yesterday reminded me of that.
So, yes, I cried sad, bitter tears all week. I lamented my plight as the girl who keeps getting left behind. But today I’m trying to change the way I think.
I can’t close myself to chance encounters. I can’t block my heart to people who don’t plan to stay here for good. This friend who just left, and others before her, have made me a better person through knowing and loving them. They may not be here to share a cup of coffee or a platter of sushi, but they hold important places in my heart, places that would just be sadly empty if they hadn’t come here for the short while they were here.
So, just like that day so long ago when I decided to keep my heart open to the possibilities of future love. I’m keeping my heart open to future friendships, knowing full well the extent of the pain I might endure later. Without the possibility of that future pain, I won’t ever experience the intense joy that comes from such amazing friendships.
|The amazing Grace Duffy and I. Damn I miss that smile.|