Three weeks ago I loaded Knox and Purslane into the Subaru and headed off for Pearl River, New York. MapQuest told me 6.5 hours, for which I prepared six full length Disney films, two cloth grocery bags full of books, crayons, stickers and toys, and one Trader Joe's bag stuffed with squeezie applesauce, peanut butter pretzels, popcorn, apples, animal crackers and those small cans of Starbucks espresso.
These things lasted approximately 45 minutes.
The remaining seven hours of the trip (extra time for toddler peeing on the side of the road, detours for construction and New Jersey traffic) were consumed with variations on "are we almost there", kid naps that were too short for Mama, and one of my favorite Tom Waits songs being requested so many times I am sure I never want to hear it again. Which is sad, because it is a great song.
The end destination was the home of my best friend and the one person who knows exactly how fabulous I felt in my pink rimmed glasses and Lakers colored rubber band braces mouth circa 1994. Sarah Elizabeth Trein Binkele has known me since I was 11 and she was 12, summer youth camp friendship turned one of the most precious things in my life.
It's the typical story. We met as kids, grew up at each other's houses, had all the same friends, dated none of the same boys (off limits), vacationed with each other's families, attended each other's high school graduations, were in each other's weddings, girls weekends at the cabin when she turned 30, flew out to meet each other's babies, etc. There isn't much about me that she doesn't know. Which makes her amazingly supportive and wise when I need advice immediately without having to explain the back story. It makes me want to punch her in the face when I am bemoaning some consequence and know that when she says "I told you that would happen" that she actually probably did at some point. And I should have listened to her.
We arrived on Thursday evening and were immediately enveloped into the beautiful chaos that is Sarah and Tim's life. They have four gorgeous children, the oldest girl is my goddaughter and even though I can take no credit for how cool she is, it was fabulous to spend time with her and realize that Sarah has been doing a stellar job raising her even without my help.
The impetus for our trip to New York was the opening of a Farmer's Market in the parking lot of the church Tim pastors. Oh, did I mention that along with being the Mama of four children, finishing her OTA degree, organizing and running a farmer's market for the town of Pearl River, and hosting weddings in her backyard, Sarah is also a PASTOR's WIFE (to a pretty fantastic man)??
Please join me in a collective sigh of admiration and jealousy.
Between the three of us, the six of them and the parade of friends and neighbors that come randomly to their home and hang out, the next four days felt like puppies tumbling over each other. Friday morning was Farmer's Market, Saturday morning was savory crepes and Americanos for Sarah and I at a café in Nyack while Tim watched all six babes back at the house, Sunday morning was church and then goodbyes. In the middle were dreamy backyard dinners, taking two tweenie girls to the movies, theology discussions until later then we should have stayed up, broken refrigerators, dinosaur costumes, and smiling at each other over the heads of our grass stained babes splashing in the tub.
We have made some very different decisions about life. Where we live, how many babes to have, what to do for our career, how we run our homes, whether hard cider actually counts as booze...
But my friend has figured out how to successfully live with an open hand. It made me laugh to think about the times I have described myself as living more open handedly, and realize that I am way more uptight then I take credit for. I am wound pretty tight when it comes to the milieu I will accept in my home. And the price I pay (or Grant pays, to be more truthful) is in the minutes before a dinner party when I am straightening placemats and adding lemon to the water jug rather then putting Johnny Cash on the record player and letting Grant pour me a glass of wine. A dinner party at Sarah and Tim's happens when people who seem to feel comfortable just dropping by in the middle of dinner- pull up a chair. Their people love them and feel loved in return.
It felt so good to live life together for a few days. This friendship has evolved so beautifully that even though we have been living in parallel universes for the past 19 years (I moved away from Ohio when I was 15) within 24 hours of pulling up to her house, she and I were moving around each other in a dance that has been familiar since the day we met. We still end up in the kitchen making something random if we stay up too late (cherry muffins with goat cheese ganache) and I still try to make her say "penis" at least once a conversation, which Tim didn't find near as funny as we did...maybe if he would have known us at 14...
I don't have one single photo of our four days together. I have a few cell phone snapshots of the babes running around the backyard playing with the dog and swinging on the jungle gym. But not one of Sarah and I. I just didn't think about it once during our visit. And it makes me sad now, but realizing that we spent the entire time just being completely present with each other, with Tim, with our children...maybe there just wasn't time to stop playing and take a picture.