Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Story About Life's Unexpected Bounty

Image result for bear in the big blue house moon
Don't ask, it's an inside thing. 

When we decided two and a half years ago to uproot our family and leave everything and everyone we knew and loved behind, I knew it would be a grand adventure filled with new experiences.  And that is has been.  I knew we would see amazing places, experience natural wonders, eat new foods, meet new people, and freeze our tails off.  We've done all that and more.  I also knew (hoped) it would teach the boys that leaving your comfort zone isn't as bad as it initially sounds, and that it will actually open your mind to a whole new world of possibilities you may never have realized if you had stayed in your box.  I do think they've learned that.

But, as is usually the case with life, it is the unexpected that is the most profound and rewarding experience of all. And as it turns out, the boys were not the only ones who would learn something valuable.

People.  We've got some truly amazing people in our life and I count them among our greatest bounty in this bountiful life.   I mean, when you're sitting in a hospital thousands of miles from home with a loved one going through a very scary situation and a friend brings you food, you know you've got a good friend.  But when they know to bring you Mexican food, well.....that's even better.  When they know exactly what to put in that burrito, well that's a special kind of friendship and I have that in spades.  Friendships I have cultivated over the years are some of my most treasured possessions and I value them beyond words.  Years of fun, laughter, camping trips, birthday parties, babies, travel, taco eating, drinking, and some sadness too have linked us for life.  We have a lot of time invested in each other.  Time is what it takes to develop that kind of relationship with another person.  At least, that's what I thought when I was sitting in my box.

But I am not in my box anymore.  I'm in a vast new land...... the last frontier.  And if I had not come here I would not have learned that you don't necessarily need time to cultivate an amazing friendship.  Sometimes circumstances and the people themselves are enough.

Do you mind if I digress for a moment?  No?  Good.  So going back to the unexpected being the most profound thing I mentioned earlier.....a few months ago the boys and I went and saw the movie Passengers.  We see a lot of movies here during the winter, for obvious reasons.  I'm thinking at this point we might own stock in the theater in Fairbanks.  Anyway, Passengers is about two people who are among 5,000 passengers on a star ship traveling in hibernation pods on a 120 year journey to a new planet.  They wake up too soon and sh#@ gets real.  The woman, Aurora, is a writer who decided to take the journey because her father once told her, "If you live an ordinary life, all you'll have are ordinary stories".  She wanted extraordinary stories to tell.  I was was like, yeah.....that's exactly how I feel.  It's part of why I wanted to embark on our journey to Alaska.  She also said, "I think we tell each other stories to know we're not alone".  Yeah, that too.  Dang, totally did not expect this random movie to hit me in the face and bring me clarity, but there it was in a movie theater in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I almost dropped my popcorn.  Almost.  I want a bountiful life.  I want extraordinary stories. 

And so, in that spirit, today's story as I mentioned prior to my little side trip (thank you for that), is about unexpected friendship.  When you take inventory of your closest friends, do you find they are all pretty similar people?  I mean, it makes sense that we would gravitate to people with the same personalities, beliefs, and interests as ourselves, so it would follow that they would be similar people.  I find this to be true of my closest friends. They all have differences of course that make them special, but for the most part they are,well, like me.  But what if circumstances are such that you find yourself somewhere new, without your posse, where there aren't a lot of people around like you?

About four months after we moved here I discovered the answer to this very burning (kidding) question........ if you're lucky, you learn that someone who is totally different from you in some ways, can be a lot like you in others when you take the time to find out.  And those differences can make for a fabulous friendship.

And so the story goes, on the sidelines of a soccer field, I met Heather.  She is originally from North Carolina (opposite end of the country from California), she's an avid sports enthusiast (unless my kid or another kid I adore is playing, I'm out),  loves the sun and the heat (heat happens to be one of the major reasons I left California), loves sushi (no, give me a taco), has a great sense of fashion (it's jeans and t-shirts for me), likes to get to work early (I'm lucky if I get there by 10am), can quote songs and movies like Google (I can't remember what I said five minutes ago), has a fabulous, flamboyant personality (I don't think there's anything flamboyant about me), her family serves our country in the military and she has lived in a lot of different places (before moving to Alaska at the age of 44 I had only lived within a 3 hour radius of the city I was born in my entire life).  But more importantly, she is a great mom and loves her kids, a true and loyal friend, thoughtful, intuitive, social, likes to have fun, is a hard worker, has a great sense of humor, and loves a good taco and shot of tequila......all things I do identify with.  And in just two and a half short years of laughter, chips and salsa making (me) and eating (her),  and late nights of tequila shots and conversation in my kitchen, she has become a lifelong friend. Evidence that sometimes circumstances and people, not time, are all that's needed to form lasting friendships.

But alas, her family's service to our country has set them on a new adventure to a warm and sunny destination that suits her just a tad bit better (understatement).  And while I'll miss her and her amazing kiddos, I can't help but think that yet another quote from that slap in the face movie I mentioned earlier, is so very true.......

"We all have a journey.  We plan for our future as if we are captains of our fate.  But we're passengers.  We go where fate takes us."

I'm just hoping fate takes me to Florida one day, during the winter please, to visit my friend. And yes, I'll make chips and salsa when I get there.

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