I've been trying to come up with some way to put words to this week's "Lake Days," as they have been dubbed. Having always been a fan of Southern Lit, I'm a little awed and humbled at the fact that my life seems to have been suddenly planted smack in the middle of one of the books I have loved so well, the books that don't even begin to do the reality justice, I find. However, now, I am also facing the impossible task of trying to put into words the simple of comfort of good friends.
In my life I have many, many forms of relationships of varying levels of intimacy and varying duration. I often say that I need friends with a higher level of testosterone since sometimes women and friendship is a perilous path with theatrics for which I have little patience and even less ability.
But for two days this week, the richness and depth of women and friendship shone in my life in such a way that my it felt as if the very oil of Gilead itself filled in the crevices of my heart and made it all complete again. There is something intangibly deep and strong in the presence of people with whom one can simply be. While children of every age roiled in and out of doorways, food was sliced, baked and served, and served, and served and served, while babies nursed and ceiling fans pushed warm wet air, while the sun baked down on water and swimmers, while the hours grew later and tree frogs sang something beautiful grew in the sharing of words and laughter and experiences and love. We spoke of loss of children, of fathers, of husbands and homes. We spoke of birth and death and the million quirks and frustrations of raising children. We made inappropriate jokes and spoke words that would make our momma's blush (and for which we'd wash out our own children's mouths). We were only ourselves, completely ourselves with our warts and our scars and our amazing beautiful differences, and somehow we were much more than that.
I am often too quick to poo-poo romantic picture that some have painted of the power of female relationships, but there is some sort of glorious freedom found in revealing so many pieces of your life at one time, and finding that even in its uniqueness there is a shared sameness, an empathy that isn't found in your every day interaction with the world at large. It is, in a sense, a church service, an act of worship this revealing and sharing, encouraging and strengthening, absolving and communing. It is a gift to know that you are not alone in your memories of hair ablutions at Grandma's house, or your fear of failure, your petty jealousies or your hope that you just don't screw your children up so much they never recover.
Life can feel isolating, and it gets helped along by an evil angel who would have us believe that our secrets are too nasty to share, that no one would love us if they knew that, that we should be ashamed and hide things in the dark, dark corners and turn our backs on them. Lake Days sang a different song. May it continue to echo long and loudly down the corridors of my heart.