Tuesday, March 07, 2006

RAoK week: #2 Great Friends, Great Kindness

Continuing the Random Acts of Kindness (RAoK) theme this week...
I have this wonderful group of friends that I've known for years. We all struggled through meager pay and work-overload at the same company when we were all not very far into our careers. We all still obsessively talk and tell stories about this place as well.

It has been many years since I've even lived in the same city with these friends. My life has changed a lot, moving to two different cities, having two kids, and quitting my job for awhile to stay home. Yes, their lives have changed too. A few have married and had kids, some have divorced, others have made other big changes in their life. But, for some reason we have all stayed in touch.

In my eyes, they are way more "the hipsters" than myself--living in a very cool city, traveling on a whim, going out often, and making daring career changes to follow or find their dreams. I am a stay-at-home mom who blogs. Woo, woo. But, the point I'm trying to make is that sometimes I think keeping our friendships connected may be more difficult for them than it is for me. I'm always happy to hear about their latest adventures. But, do they really want to hear me whine yet again about my hatred of housework, my son's unexpected phases, and my daughter's rapidly approaching (OK, they're already here) tantrum years or my life in suburbia?

These friends have surprised me more than once in my life, showing me great kindness. It is not uncommon for them to arrange dinners, evenings of drinking and dancing, and happy hours for me--dropping everything the few times I get to come through their city each year. Two particular surprises really stand out for me, because they were completely unexpected.

After a little more than three years at the sweatshop employer, I got up the courage to interview and leave. My leaving caused some heat on my manager and made more work for my dear friends and coworkers. That last thing is what I regretted the most. But, I still left and went to work for a soon-to-be-bust business in a very small publications department. I found a great new friend at this job, but I had lost my career "mo-jo." I was completely burned out from the last job, missing that big community feel that we'd all had suffering through our day-to-day, and not connecting with my job or the subject matter for which I was writing at the new place. Some days were OK, and some were not. I had started gaining some weight and was having some stress at home in the marriage department too.

It was my birthday, but I wasn't feeling that celebratory and hadn't really told anyone at my work what day it was either. One of these friends from my old job contacted me about going to lunch, perhaps meeting another friend. I agreed, always glad to get away and catch up with my pals. I can't remember the details of how it all went down, but I do remember walking into a tiny hole-in-the-wall Chinese place that I loved and seeing a table full of of my favorite people in the world smiling at me, wishing me a happy birthday over egg rolls and greasy fried rice. I was shocked and flattered and just giddy to see them.

Years later, I was living in another city and had been staying home with my first child for several years. I had several long years of infertility and had almost given up--thinking I would not be able to have another, when I found myself pregnant with my daughter. I was a few months from delivering, when my husband suspiciously asks about my schedule for a particular weekend.

My husband is not good at keeping secrets from me. Or, maybe I should admit now, I'm not good about letting him. When he would not offer up why he was asking, only saying that I needed "to be available" on this day around this time, I hounded him relentlessly. Would we be going somewhere? After asking about 500 times, he said no. Would someone be coming HERE? I went into my long drawn-out explanation of "honey, you KNOW me...you know my cleaning compulsions, you KNOW I can't have people at this house if it is not immaculate." He gave in again, saying yes, some people would be at our house.

He didn't give me a lot more. I was sure it was related to the baby and that people were coming to my house, which I thought was quite odd. I only came up with two possibilities--that my neighbors were doing something for me or that his friends at his office were. But, neither seemed to fit the circumstances exactly.

That morning, I opened my front door. The stunned look on my face shows it all here (as well as a lot of late pregnancy bloating!) I was completely shocked to find my group of pals standing there with smiling faces, surprising me with a road-trip/baby shower.

The day was amazing. One of my friends even brought her new baby and it was just a day I'll never forget. These dear friends of mine...who have shown me such kindness and loyalty over the years.

You know, we may not have it all in common anymore, but they love me as I am and continue to show that in amazing ways that touch my soul. I only hope that one day I can show them what they mean to me as well...

(That is, aside from possibly annoying them by posting their pictures on the internet for all to see!)


Anonymous Theresa said...

You? Beautiful. Friends like that? Amazing. Keep the husband!

8:36 AM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger Tamara said...

As I was reading this, I just kept thinking, WOW! I get to be in the cool group! I'm one Steph's friends! I am amazed by you and this group as well. It means so much to be in it and to mean something to you. Thanks so much for this post. I love you, MAN!

9:14 AM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger "D" said...

I love these RAoK stories... makes me think long and hard (and joyfully) about my own moments. I'm basking in your happiness!

9:40 AM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger Lisabell said...

That day was every bit as wonderful and fun for us as it was for you :)

As far as the NI bond, it's true - we were all in the right place at the right time. But we still wouldn't have been as close as we were/are if we weren't all exactly who we are. WE ROCK! ;)

1:07 PM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous TB said...

What a wonderful and happy tribute. This post is like a breath of fresh air. Such a great idea!

7:11 PM, March 08, 2006  
Anonymous Angela said...

This is such a fantastic idea, and I think you are so blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, and your beautiful shower pics :)

7:55 PM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger Babs said...

aw, I'm finally catching up on your blog, and kinda got teary eyed when reading this post! (and I'm surprised no one commented yet about you posting the picture ;-)

You're an awesome friend, and I love hearing about your life. Isnt it funny how we always think the grass is greener? Next time we're in the same time, we gotta plan a dance outing!

10:08 PM, March 08, 2006  

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