A few weeks ago, I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We didn’t have a falling out or any upsets. Our lives had just started to move in different directions. Due to families, jobs, tragedies, responsibilities, and blessings, we had just gotten involved in our own lives and lost touch for a while. I believe our surprising reunion wasn’t a random incident. We tend to weave our way in and out of each other’s life in perfect union with God and the universe. We were destined to see each other again. This moment had been divinely orchestrated.
I was on break from my job and decided to fill my car with gas before returning to the campus. I had pulled up to one of the pumps in the Sam’s Club parking lot. As I pumped gas into the tank, I was just mindlessly glancing around at the cars and people that surrounded me. Suddenly, I noticed a small blue car sitting right on the other side of the pump I was using. My attention was drawn to the white stencil that covered the back of the window. The curvy lettering joyfully advertised the services of a puppeteer. Smiling, little, white childish faces decorated the bottom of the window. Oh, my gosh, I know someone who drives a car just like that! I turned slightly to the right…and there she was, my friend, Jane. “Jane?” I called out to her. Honestly, that was all I had said and suddenly I found myself wrapped in her embrace and we were talking again as if we had never been apart.
As our gas tanks continued to fill, Jane and I excitedly shared updates about our lives. Jane was still doing her puppet shows and had gotten married again. I was still teaching at the college and had published a book. Both our lives had stayed the same and changed so much. Jane asked me if I would like to come to dinner at her house one night. I agreed and she informed me that she would contact me through Facebook soon. Our tanks were filled and our hearts were open and we decided to go our separate ways before we held up the line of people waiting patiently in their cars behind us.
A few days later, Jane contacted me and we arranged a time to meet. I happily went over to her house on a Friday night. Even though some things had changed, there was a warm familiarity to Jane’s home. I love Jane’s house, which is filled with pictures and mementos from a life filled with love, obstacles, successes, and journeys. I love homes like this. I’m not a snoop. I only go into rooms I am invited into and I only look at items that are out in the open, not hidden away in drawers or cabinets. But I love to see the pictures and memories that create a life. In any friend’s home, i usually will gaze at the family portraits on the walls. I’m the guest who will joyful look at all of the photo albums and baby books over hot coffee or iced tea. I respect and treasure my friends’ memories as if they were my own.
Jane’s home is a special treat. It is clean and fresh, but filled with items that signify a well-lived life of love and blessings, of obstacles overcome and dreams yet to be fulfilled. I stood in Jane’s living room and looked around at the dolls and toys, afghans and doilies, pictures and books. “Oh, don’t mind the mess,” Jane stated as she waved her hand.
“No, it’s fine,” I assured her. “I think it’s much cleaner than my apartment.”
“I had a friend over the other day,” Jane told me. “She looked around the room and said ‘Oh, Jane…are you a hoarder?’ I said, ‘No, I just need a bigger house!’”
I looked at Jane and started to laugh. “No, seriously,” Jane tried to defend herself. “I do! I’m not a hoarder. I just need a bigger house.”
I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect response. Life really is all about perspective now, isn’t it? Does anyone else really know the treasures we hold in our hearts? People are constantly looking at each other from the outside and being so critical. Do we ever really look at another person from the inside? I looked around Jane’s living room again, feeling the love and the kindness that permeated the sacred space. I thought the room was beautiful.
The whole evening was warm and comfortable as I had dinner with Jane and her husband, played with their blind cat, and explored Jane’s massage room. It was obviously clear to me. Jane was not a hoarder. She is not owned or ruled by things. She is guided by memories and emotion. She is buried under kindness and compassion. She is her own person living her own full life. Jane’s home reminds me of my favorite saying:“You weren’t meant to fit in; you were made to stand out.” Jane stands out and I really hope other people see Jane’s happy and determined personality throughout her home and in her life.
At the end of the evening, after a great homemade meal of salad and lasagna, I hugged my friend and her husband good-bye and climbed into my car. I waved at my friend as I drove away. We promised that we would stay in touch and not let so much time pass by before we saw each other again. That was three months ago. Jane and I have stayed in touch through random messages on Facebook. We are trying to arrange another time to get together. She and her husband have gone to Vegas, had relatives visiting from out of town. We both had holidays, friends who needed our assistance, and work responsibilities. It doesn’t matter, though. Jane and I are connected in a cosmic way. I know Jane and I will see each other again and, over glasses of iced tea with honey, there will be more pictures to look at and many more stories to tell. We are contradictions and undeniable truths. We will show each other how we stand out and belong together. But above it all, for now and forever, we are good friends.