I've started this post three different ways and none of them are quite right. I feel like I need to offer background on who I was ten years ago, in college, compared to who I am today, a mom. I want to provide an explanation of the friendships I have from college and the deep connection we share. But the thing is, words are just not working out to do that. It all feels inadequate unless I commit to write an entire book explaining the history of our relationship, which isn't happening this morning. I have limited time until I have to be Mom again so here's what I have to offer...
Once upon a time, last week, I got a shitty tattoo. It's true. Those who know me now would probably be surprised at what might seem an impulsive decision. You see, the friends I have and see on a regular basis know me primarily as a family person. I am a mom. I stay home with my kids and most of what I do is for and because of them. My days are simple and consist of diapers, meal making, cleaning, and whatever glamorous tasks come along with homemaking and parenting. I make decisions based on the state of my crew; how close we are to nap times, who's hungry, the time span between bathroom breaks and general attitudes of the team. This is my life. Each tiny decision is weighed and measured along a subjective canon.
Back up like a decade. College. I can't even begin describing such a time. It was full of so many experiences, most of which wouldn't even make sense to explain. Partially because my memory is terrible these days. I can't remember details of actual experiences but I certainly have accurate memories of my feelings, if that makes sense. The primary feeling that I recollect from that time is connectedness. I have a tremendous bond with a handful of friends that continues today. I don't know if it's because of the vulnerability shared as roommates, the camp-like feeling of Bible college, or if we would have hit it off in any other time of life. Regardless, we have a beautiful friendship and recently lived out a dream we shared back in the day.
We met up in Pennsylvania for a friendsgiving reunion. This doesn't sound like a huge deal, but here's the low down: Jeff and Allison have the youngest child so we met near where she lives. We rented a big house and all gathered there with 9 kids and 8 adults. Andrew and Chandra drove from Ohio with their son, (An)Drew and Amanda brought their two girls up from Miami and we flew (and drove) from Alaska. It was such a long journey with three young kids but we made it. The week was not exactly restful, but was so, so good! There was a lot of coffee, food and fun. It was beautiful seeing our kids together and getting to know each of them a little bit. I love that I have an idea who each of them are now beyond what can be explained. My favorite part of the whole trip was probably watching my friends interact as families. In particular, having known each of these girls so well as individuals, it was extra special seeing them as moms.
The first night there, the guys were in the living room around the fire and the girls were in the kitchen with wine and chocolate popcorn (typical). One by one we had to leave the table as we forced our kids to go to sleep. We were discussing the possibility of getting a friendship tattoo together on the trip and wanted to come up with the perfect image for us. We tossed around several ideas and went back and forth many times. We made a decision to get two arrows crossing, which is a symbol Native American symbol of friendship, with four feathers at the base of the arrow, to represent each of us. We wanted it to look more natural/organic like sticks with leaves rather than sterile, perfectly straight lines like the more presently trendy look. It's funny now that we were concerned with something looking too perfect. Andrew drew it up for us and that was that.
In true mom fashion, we had no idea what to do when we decided to take a girl's day out. So we found our way to town and popped a squat at an herbery for some coffee/tea. It was nice just being together, talking, with only one child present. While we were there we called the local tattoo place and when he called back he said he'd be ready for us in ten minutes. OH MAN! We got our hustle on and showed up at the door to his tattoo basement. Once again, words will fail to explain this situation. Basically we were greeted by a pirate/wizard hybrid. An old eccentric dude with a long white beard and a crude sense of humor opened the door and assaulted us with bizarre comments, unexpected jokes and references to people we'd never heard of. We told him we'd be in touch and walked out shaking our heads because there's no way that was going to happen. But after talking with a tattooed husband, we filled out bellies with some Mexican food, stopped by the grocery store and called the tattoo guy back. Next thing I know, the ice cream in the trunk was the biggest concern we had, which in hindsight, is also funny.
First things first when we got to the shop one of us had to poop. If you know the four of us, you probably already know who. We asked to use his bathroom and it was weird for several reasons but mostly because there wasn't a sink. What kind of bathroom has a shower but no sink? Anyway, Amanda went first, then Allison, then Chandra then me. My friend locally saw the tattoo and told me I'm a very good friend for going last. That pretty much sums it up. We each put our brave face on, took our turn and ended up with a tattoo that makes me wonder if his moonshine joke was a joke at all. I don't think any of us really realized in the moment how bad they looked until we stepped out the door and walked back to the car. At that point we could either laugh or cry because TATTOOS ARE PERMANENT! We chose to laugh and are continuing to do so as we settle back into post-vacation life. A hilarious memory was made, and so are appointments for tattoo fixes.
All in all, this week was very representative of us. It was so much fun even though it wasn't perfect. There was a little drama, vulnerability, laughter but most of all togetherness. And that is the stuff friendship is made of. We have remained in close contact since the glory days of Bible college. We may not remember a whole lot of the academic components that seemed important at the time, but college brought us together and I'm so happy for that. Truly this Thanksgiving was one for the books, or at least for the blog. Here's to friendship, family and plans for future trips together... maybe with more ice cream and less tattooing.