My Girl Scout career was short-lived. I was a Brownie Scout for 2 years in elementary school. Then my mother said I needed to choose between scouts and piano lessons. I chose piano and took lessons for six years. I finally realized I was sorely lacking in musical skill and should have stuck with scouting.
But, I did learn a few things in Scouts. I learned to tie two knots. I learned that friends of one’s grandparents will buy lots of cookies. And I learned some catchy songs. My favorite was Taps, which we sang at the end of our meetings. I still tear up when I hear it. Another song that girls of all ages seem to know, even if they weren’t in Scouts is Make New Friends.
I have made many new friends in my almost 63 years. I went to 4 different schools up through high school and then three different colleges. I have moved 13 times. I worked at 4 companies during my career days; I spent 25 years at the last one before retiring in 2019. My newest friends have been made here in our forever home on the river. They are some of the best neighbors we’ve ever had, and I’m happy to turn silver here with them.
New friends and new beginnings are refreshing. You can start anew, editing out some of the painful or embarrassing moments of your past, and can selectively share just those parts of your story that are bright and shiny. There’s no need to tarnish the silver. The funny thing is, though, if you want the new friendship to go deeper than just surface level, you need to be willing to open up. As you share openly with others, and if they in turn respond honestly, you may find that the dents and dings of life are what make us interesting. They make us care about each other and appreciate the texture of these well-worn vessels that carry around our brains, our hearts, and our souls.
We had only known our neighbors at the river three years when Rachel died in April of 2017. At the time we still lived in Tampa fulltime and our river house was a weekend getaway. Rachel was an adult and didn’t live with us, so our neighbors had only met her a few times. But, there has always been something special about this place and the people here. I knew that as soon as I had made the initial painful phone calls and could drag myself off my bed, I needed to be at the river. It was and is my retreat, my sanctuary, and my solace. I feel closer to God here.
I texted one neighbor and asked her to please let others know what had happened. I apologized that I just couldn’t handle talking on the phone any more. I had known her even less time than some others, but she has an adult daughter and grandchildren the same age as mine. I knew she is a good-hearted person who would give the near neighbors the news.
Well, these warm-hearted folks embraced is in all our brokenness. They brought food. Several drove two hours to attend the memorial service of a young woman they barely knew. A neighbor who is a talented potter gave us a beautiful, intricate piece in a color that just happened to be Rachel’s favorite. The women encouraged me to talk about Rachel and would cry with me. They told me funny and sad stories about their lives. They invited us to dinner and understood when sometimes we had to say no.
In the five and a half years since, we have become fulltime neighbors. Some have moved away, a few have passed away. And, I’ve noticed that the silver has taken on a different hue. I see it taking on a warmer cast. A chemist will tell you that one element cannot turn into another. Ah, but an alchemist will admit that with age, and a little magic, silver can become gold.
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