Who I Walk With

I’ve just returned from more than three years of traveling and am looking to re-establish a home base back here in the States. In a way, I’m immigrating back to my home country and as I do so I find myself in a state of transformation and reinvention.

Grace Paley Quote FPWhat is odd is that I find this time in flux more disconcerting than my life on the road. More unnerving than being abandoned in Kingdom of Lesotho, or riding out an Indonesian storm without a life jacket, or surviving a 7-hour van ride with a man with machete. More daunting because I’m not facing external forces, but internal ones. I’m now encountering my own roadblocks and having to break down barriers to get around them.

As I navigate a new life—getting a job, finding a place to live, buying a car—I find one thing that is grounding me: re-connecting with old friends. So when I came across a quote from Grace Paley, it resonated with me:

“For happiness she required women to walk with.”

And for me, right now, this sentiment rings true. During this time of reinvention, I am turning to the women in my life for guidance and solace and support. And while I don’t know exactly which direction I’m heading, I am grateful that there are others with me on this journey, walking beside me.

Walking the Walk

My greatest walking partner is my mother. As I sack out at our family home, I take the morning to write, the afternoons to job search, and the early evenings to exercise. Very often she accompanies me on my fresh air outings. We head out of our “circle,” to the neighborhood park and around the duck pond.

It’s long, hot, humid walk, but as we shuffle along, we have good conversation along the way. It’s during this time that I’m starting to reach out more and trust her with my inner thoughts and she in turn is offering her good advice.

Most importantly she’s listening as I unravel my concerns and wants and wishes. She’s become more than my walking partner. She’s now a guardian of wishes, keeper of secrets and trustee of struggles.

She has opened up both her heart and her home, allowing me to stay while I figure out the next chapter in my life. Not something I would ever imagine I would do at the age 46 (because I’m a strong independent woman who needs no help). But right now I do need some help, a place where I can take time to let the universe and new opportunities unfold.

And my life is evolving in a direction I would have never of expected. Over the last two months, I’ve had many positive events and a few disappointing ones, each one totally unexpected. It’s turning my world upside down, giving me a shiny new perspective, and encouraging me to be nimble as I search out a future for myself. It’s all a tad unsteady, which is why a solid walking partner is perfect to lend a bit of balance.

Talking the Talk

Not only am I walking intensely during this time, but I’m talking to friends far away. It started when a former college buddy reached out to me. While I was in San Francisco last year we would regularly get together at a neighborhood café. Now that I’m on the opposite coast, we’re still connecting via Skype. We both make a date for a “tea chat,” setting aside a good hour or more to catch up. Instead of a rushed phone call, the video calls allow us to pretend that we’re in our neighborhood café. There are a few silences, and sometimes one of us answers the door or refills the kettle. It’s all very friendly and familiar and comfortable. Just what I need right now.

I’m enjoying our tea chats so much that I’ve invited other friends to join me on these grown-up play dates. I’ve just had happy hour in Honolulu, and am arranging afternoon tea in Vancouver and a Saturday morning snack in Trinidad.

One of the reasons these online chats are so gratifying is that my friends and I realize that the time we set aside to be together is a gift. As incredibly busy, successful women, the biggest gift we can give one another is our time and attention.

That’s what these teas are all about. Reaching out, being present, making time in our hectic lives to strengthen the bonds of friendship. Even from a faraway place, we are building our camaraderie through acceptance, and encouragement, and love. All this with one shared cup of hot tea.

Step by Step

As I embrace this time of reinvention, it should come as no surprise that it’s the simple things that are resonating loudest. A walk around a pond. A chat and a cup of tea. Each one so easy, so nourishing, so fulfilling in this time of rushing and speed and self-importance.

It’s clear to me that I “require women to walk with.” And I’m thankful that I have friends that I can invite and are willing to walk with me. It’s teaching me to cherish every step I take in the new direction of my future life.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 25th, 2014 and is filed under Erin Right Now.

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