Connections


My husband is a very good human. He is kind, thoughtful, gentle. Pretty much everyone likes him.

Paul was a shy and quiet child, but grew into himself as an adult. He’s a constant surprise to old friends who knew him way back in High School, because he’s now the most social one of all of us.

Now that he is an outgoing, confident adult (and a successful and well respected psychologist), he has begun to articulate what it is that makes him reach out to strangers.

“It’s all about the connections,” he tells me. “Life is about making connections with other human beings.”

I know that he’s right, but I am not always as open or as non-judgmental as he is. Still, I try to be open. I try to greet people with a smile and a welcome.

Today that attitude paid off for me, as I made a lovely connection in the most unexpected of ways.

I was shopping at my favorite guilty secret bargain store, Ocean State Job Lot. I went in for a few small items, but as usual, I was pulled in by the seed packets, the bubble wands and the plants. I was on my way home from a visit to my mother, and was thinking a lot about my childhood. I was feeling a little emotional as I went into the store.

I picked up everything I needed (or could justify to myself), including a pot of dianthus and one of lupine. I love both of these perennials, and mine are in need of reinforcements. So I plopped them into my cart and continued through the store.

When I got to the checkout, there was a bit of a line. I waited my turn, noticing the young man behind me who was talking on his phone with a work colleague.

I’ll be honest. I noticed him first, in my creepy old grandmother way, because he was very good looking. Southeast Asian, I thought, perhaps from Vietnam or Cambodia. Tall, slim, dark haired, with wide, light brown eyes that contrasted with his darker skin.

He had a tattoo on one wrist, and a sharp spike piercing his lower lip.

Cute. Interesting.

My turn came at the register, and the young cashier rang up all of my many, many items. She got the skin cream, the candy, the seeds, the olive oil, the potting soil and the potted dianthus.

Then she turned to the lupine. She spun the planter, and frowned. There was no price tag.

“What is this?”, she asked. When I answered with the name of the flower, she shook her head. She was looking at her list of items for sale, and the plants were not labelled by name. They were labelled by size.

“It’s a perennial” I said, looking over her shoulder. “But I don’t know if its a quart or a 6 1/2″ pot.” This seemed like a meaningless comparison to me. Quart? Versus inches? What?

The cashier was confused, so she called her manager. He had no more idea of what to think than we did. We all looked at each other blankly.

That’s when the man behind me leaned forward.

“This is a 6 1/2 in pot. It should be this price.” He reached forward to tap the page that we were all looking at.

I was delighted. What could have taken ten minutes had been reduced to one small, simple comment.

“Thank you so much!” I said with a smile. A real smile. Not a ‘I should be friendly’ smile.

He smiled back.

“Well, I work in a garden center,” he said.

As my transaction was finishing, I thanked him again, then told him that I wished I had more time to ask him for advice, because my gardening dreams are always more successful than my gardening realities. We both laughed, I thanked him again, and headed out to my car.

As I was putting my toys, makeup, and food into my car, the same man came out of the store and headed my way.

Wouldn’t you know that the universe had arranged for us to park next to each other?

The man held out his phone to me. “This is my greenhouse,” he said with pleasure. I looked at the image of the wide, bright, beautiful array of plants. What struck me was his pride in his work.

“It’s gorgeous!” I said with all sincerity.

We started to chat about his work, and I asked where it was located. It turns out that he is one of many growers at a garden center that I have known my whole life.

“My parents always got their plants from your garden center!” I told him with surprised pleasure. “I love it there!”

The young man smiled and nodded at the compliment. “It’s beautiful. We grow so much there, all year!”

Then he opened his trunk.

“This is what I grow,” he said with pride. He beckoned me over and we looked into the trunk of his car. Tomatoes, peppers, squash and four beautiful flower plants.

We talked for a few more minutes. I asked him for advice on how to get my lupines to reseed. He talked about the personalities and needs of different plants, and advised me to get to know each one.

And then he reached into his trunk and pulled out one of his beautiful young plants.

“For you,” he said, “If you want this sunflower.”

I tried to refuse, but only weakly. “Oh, I can’t take that from you!”

“I want you to have it,” he said. “This was a nice meeting.”

I took the sunflower baby, and I was filled with such happiness.

“You have made my day,” I said to him. “Thank you so very much!”

“Thank you!” he answered. “Good bye!”

We didn’t exchange names. We’ll never run into each other again. But just by chance, we were able to connect to another human being who shared our love of plants and our desire to reach out and just be pleasant to each other.

Memories, new and old


I am in bed.

I am in a beautiful lake house in Vermont, three hours from my home. It’s raining out and it promises to rain for this entire long weekend.

I’m the only one in bed this early. I am very, VERY tired.

I am curled up on this unknown bed in this lovely AirBnB house on a cold but beautiful lake. The room is warm and cosy. I feel pampered. I feel safe.

Downstairs I can hear voices. They are the voices of some of the women I love the most in all the world. They are laughing, talking, questioning, sharing stories. I’ve known all of them for at least 45 years. Some I’ve known for longer.

This is my high school best friends weekend. We are eight women, all in our early 60’s. We’ve had lives, careers, families, loves won and loves lost. We are wise. We are, every single one of us, very very strong.

We are friends.

We accept each other and celebrate each other and hold each other up.

I am so tired.

Tomorrow we will venture out into the rain and ice and visit the city nearby. We will shop and walk and eat dinner and laugh, and then we’ll probably laugh some more.

Tonight I will turn out my light. I’ll lay on my side, in this wide and comfortable bed. I will listen to the music of my friends’ voices as they catch up on all the news of each other’s lives.

I feel hugged. I feel loved.

This is the magic that keeps us going.

 

Grace, and Frankie, and Women Friends


I’ve been watching the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie” for the past few weeks. It was recommended by a bunch of my women friends.

I love it.

You know why? Not because of the great writing, the wonderful acting, the humor or the gorgeous beach front location.

Nope.

I love it because it captures the evolving relationship of two women who have been in each other’s lives for years without truly connecting. It shows the tender dance of two women who are thrown together through an unimagined tragedy/comedy. It looks at the special bond between women who have always focused on their differences, but who suddenly find a need to see their similarities.

I love it.

I love it because many years ago, when I was young and the world was full of promise, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by loving women friends. Oh, sure, we weren’t actually “women” yet. We were adolescent girls, complete with acne, insecurity and remarkably uncontrollable hair.

But we found each other. We supported each other. In spite of the occasional boyfriend spat, we held each other up and helped each other to grow.

Those women overlooked my self-absorbed rantings. They pretended that they didn’t see my social struggles or my complete lack of fashion sense. They were my team.

The years went by, we went our separate ways. We married, or we didn’t. We went to college, or we didn’t. We were financially successful, or we weren’t. There were babies, divorces, illnesses, deaths, losses.

For a few decades, we barely knew each other.

But. Here we are now. Together once again.

After years apart, different paths, different stories, different experiences, we find ourselves connected once again.

And much like Grace and Frankie, we are finding our commonalities. We are rediscovering our shared experiences and our shared triumphs. We are able to look past the old comparisons and find the best in each other.

After many decades of defining myself only in terms of my ability to nurture, to mother, to teach, I am in absolutely desperate need of these women who knew me when I was just the goody-goody girl with the big Italian family and the mediocre alto voice. I need the shared jokes, the stories from our past. I need the love and support of women who can look at me and see the me that hides inside the Mom/Nonni/wife/daughter. I need the women who see the girl inside.

And I’ve found them.

That’s why I love “Grace and Frankie.” Because it gets to the core of female friendship.

Thank you, women of RMHS!

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Pretty sure I’d be Frankie.

Wow! I had an adventure!


I am basically very cowardly.

I’m scared of getting hurt. I’m scared of falling. I’m scared of falling down an up escalator.

I’m a wimp.

But.

Now that I’m retired, and in my seventh decade of life, I am determined to push myself into new and exciting exploits. So last week, on school vacation, when Ellie would be safe in her Mommy’s arms, I had….an adventure.

I didn’t got to the Amazon to try to catch a piranha. And I didn’t head to Tibet to climb the Himalayas.

Still, for me, this was an awesome adventure.

I flew, all by myself, to the West Coast.

I know. You’re all in awe, right? I was dropped off at the huge, bustling Manchester New Hampshire airport. I flew. Alone. To Philadelphia. Where I had to (gulp) change planes.

And I flew all by my onesies across this beautiful country, all the way to San Francisco. Where I was met at the baggage claim by one of my oldest and dearest friends.

But that’s not all!

No, indeed. After three days with my pal Deb and her family, I flew ALL. BY. MYSELF. to Portland, Oregon. Where I was met at the airport by my friend Joanne, who I met when I was six years old.

So, I get it. Even though this was a huge adventure for me, it isn’t really such a big deal. Most people now jet around the world like it’s nothing.

But not me.

For me, this was a big, big stretch. And that’s why I’m telling you about it. For me, for 61 year old Nonni, this was a gigantic leap out of my comfort zone.

I made myself do it.

It scared me.

And it was fabulous. I got to see gorgeous places I would never have seen if I hadn’t pushed my sorry old self out the door. Places like Berkeley, California.

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If I hadn’t pushed myself out of my cozy little niche, I wouldn’t have had the chance to dip my feet in the Pacific at beautiful Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

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If I hadn’t decided that I was tired of being the world’s biggest chicken, I would never have flown up to Portland to reconnect with my buddy Joanne. The woman who bought me my very fist makeup (Max Factor Rose Cream Blush).

And if I had never gone up to Portland, I wouldn’t have met her hilarious, smart, warm, generous friends. I would never have seen the gorgeous Columbia river and the falls that pour into it.

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More importantly, I wouldn’t have learned that the way to make a REALLY dry martini is to use a spritzer for the vermouth. Amazon has already shipped mine.

People grow in many different ways. I understand that.

For me, growth means pushing and shoving and forcing myself out there into the big wide world. I made myself fly all alone when I was afraid.

I loved it.

Now I need to force myself to become a writer. I need to learn how to submit my stories, my essays, my thoughts for others to review, critique and judge. I need to overcome my fears and just. Try.

Life is constant growth, if you do it right.

I have to say it.

It’s actually pretty fun to be my age.

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Layers on layers


I used to think that each of us was born as an unformed little white dot. I thought that every experience added on a layer, and that each layer covered the ones before.

I thought that we were like pearls. Layer on layer of life, constantly growing around us until we became fully formed humans. I thought that process would just keep on going until at last we die.

Some of that is no doubt true. We grow and we change and we certainly learn as we move along the paths of our lives.

But now that I’m on the downhill slope of this life, past the midway point, I have a completely different idea.

In the past few years, my husband and I have reconnected with some of our oldest friends. These are people who knew us when we were young and foolish. When we had no real idea yet of who we’d be.

When we weren’t much more than those unformed “dots.”

These were the people who watched us struggle to learn our limits, and who watched us struggle to define our dreams. They grew with us. Our friendships were more intense than any we’d ever have again, although we didn’t know that at the time.

Eventually, we grew up. We got our degrees. We parted ways as we moved into our ‘real’ lives. We became parents. We launched our careers. We grew into our adult selves.

Layers were laid upon our layers.

Then, oh so suddenly, we found ourselves at the point in our lives where we were no longer “on our way.” We were THERE.

Our children grew up. We became the “old guard” at our jobs.

We thought we were our fully formed, true selves.

But now we’ve hugged and laughed with those old friends. Now I see that its time to peel back some of those layers. Those layers of cynicism, and of fatigue. It’s time to scratch off the layers of unfulfilled dreams, and to let them fly away on the wind. It’s time to peel away the layers of self-criticism and drop them into the passing stream.

Now it’s time to go back to our truest selves, our best selves.

I think that in the presence of the people who knew us at our wide-eyed best we can once again find that inner, innocent self.

I think the pearl is in there, but it takes an old and true friend to help us find it.

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So, what if????


What if you had a friend, a person that you hadn’t seen in a long time?  I mean, a very, VERY long time?  Like, what if you hadn’t seen this person in over 35 years? And what if you hadn’t really ever been close friends, even way back in the past?

What if that friend had moved across the ocean decades ago, and had created a whole new life in Europe?

And what if you sort of stumbled upon each other, through a whole network of mutual friends, on Facebook?  How would you feel if it turned out that the old, nearly forgotten friend seemed to be really, really in tune with your entire life philosophy?

What would you do?

What if that old friend, that boy you hadn’t seen since he was an adorable nineteen year old, suddenly said that he was coming to the US?  What would you do?

I bet you’d do pretty much what I did!

I invited him to spend a couple of days with us!

So now I am sitting in my living room, waiting for Paul to bring Thomas home to our house.   The house is clean(ish).  The dogs are fed.  The guest room is all made up.  I have vegan snacks and vegan dinner (yay, pizza!) all ready.  I have beer on ice and wine in the fridge.

I’m nervous!

What if I seem really old?  I mean, the last time we saw each other, I was young and thin and dark haired!  What if Thomas hates dogs? What if he hates my vegan pizza?

What if I am being a complete loonie tune right now, and what if I am forgetting that even in the late fifties, people can reestablish old friendships?  What if I am underestimating my friend, expecting him to be all judgy and unkind?

What if, once Thomas gets here, and we all sit down to our pizza and snacks and wine and beer, it turns out that we really truly do have so much in common? What if we talk about climate change, and Bernie Sanders and marriage equality, and what if we laugh and reminisce and tell funny stories?

What if we find out that even after all these years, even after so much change and growth and aging, we are still able to find like-minded souls out there in the big world?

What if it turns out that all those years ago, when I wasn’t wise enough to see it, I was already in the presence of a very good friend?

Friendship


Once, long ago, I was invited by a friend to join a choir.  The choir was a group of people who sang Russian songs, under the direction of a wonderful old Russian man named Igor.

Igor was kind, gentle, sensitive, and very old fashioned Russian.  We were a group of very young students who were studying the Russian language in the late 1970’s. We loved the romance of the language, we loved the tender emotion of Pushkin and Tolstoy and Lermontov.

We loved to sing together.

During my time with this wonderful choir, I met a woman who was totally intriguing to me. She was half Russian Jew, half Korean.  She was beautiful, tall, smart, stylish in the most effortless way.  I fell just a little bit in love with her and her beautiful soprano voice.

Gradually, over some time, we became friends.  I found her to be incredibly sophisticated where I was a humble country bumpkin.   You see, Deb had attended a prestigious private girls college where I had graduated from a small inner city state school.  She had sailed the oceans on a Russian cruise ship, while I had considered a trip to Cape Cod to be exotic.

Deb was unique.  She was creative.  She read books that I had never heard of. Deb had grown up in New York.  I considered her to be the epitome of style and grace and late 70’s cool.

I was slightly star-struck when we first became good friends.

But soon we began to work together. Two young women helping new Russian immigrants to maneuver the American health care system. We worked as interpreters for these newly arrived families, helping them to make and attend doctor’s appointments, finding them apartments, enrolling them in English classes. Through our work at Jewish Family Services, Deb and I learned so much about life for new immigrants to the US, about Russian-American relations, about our health care system.

Most of all, though, we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned that we were caring and loving and kind. We learned that we had a talent for giving something of ourselves to people who needed a kind voice. We learned that we were friends, in every meaning of that word.

Deb became my very best friend.  She was the one who saw talents in me that I never knew were there. She encouraged me to sing, to explore, to reach out.  Deb was my sounding board when I went through a rough patch very early in my marriage. She stood by me without judgement.  She was my friend.

And it was Paul and I who, unintentionally, introduced Deb to her future husband. We had hosted a party at our apartment, and had hoped that maybe Deb would be drawn to one of our friends.  We knew that she was single and gorgeous and interesting and smart. We thought there was a good chance that she’d connect with one of our many interesting single men friends.

The only one we’d never considered, of course, was the friend who fell for Deb.  We couldn’t have predicted the dating, the wedding, the two beautiful girls, the 32 years of happily married life.

And Deb and I stayed close for so many of those years.  Our children knew each other.  We visited her California home once; she came back to the East Coast every year.

But time went on. The kids grew up.  My hair went gray and my chorus days waned. I never completely lost touch with my Deb, but our friendship faded and wilted and went into a dormant state.

I thought about her often. I thought of us singing Russian folk songs on the banks of the Charles River. I thought of her when I drove through Brookline, Mass.  I remembered our Sunday morning brunches, our dinners near the hospital, our flirtations with various young and handsome doctors.   I remembered telling her about my first pregnancy. I remembered meeting her little girls.

But time seemed to have moved us apart.  I no longer write letters in long hand on pretty stationary.  Deb doesn’t like to email.  I can’t seem to manage the time lapses on the cell phone; she is not on Facebook.

We drifted apart.

But.

This past weekend, Deb and her husband Steve were visiting in our area.  They contacted us and we made a plan to have them come and stay with us for a couple of nights.

I was elated. I was anxious. I was so happy. I was afraid.

I’m not the young idealist that I was when Deb and I first met.  Now I am a chubby, middle aged, retired teacher with a slight chip on her shoulder.

Now I am a grandma.  What would we say to each other?

I waited all morning for Deb and Steve to arrive. I cleaned the house, plumped the pillows in the guest room, made some appetizers.  I worried.  I rearranged some photos, swept the front steps.  Worried a little bit more.

And then they were here.  I was out in the yard, my old Sadie doggie by my side, when I saw their car approaching.  They stopped in the driveway, and Deb stepped out of the car.

Her arms were open. She was smiling.  She was my Deb, my friend, my true heart’s companion. I folded myself into her embrace, almost sobbing with relief.  I heard her voice, so familiar and so dear, saying my name.  I inhaled the scent of her thick dark hair, and felt the cool softness of her familiar cheek against mine.

I was home. My friend was still my dearest friend.  We stepped back, looked into each other’s eyes.  We laughed and hugged each other tight once again.

Some things don’t change, no matter how much time has passed. The love of a true friend is one of those beautiful gifts.  I had the incredible pleasure of learning that Deb will be a grandmother in February of this year.  And I had the even greater pleasure of seeing my first grandchild encircled in Deb’s loving arms.

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Deb and Ellie.

Life may go on, but the best parts of it remain the same.

Thank you, Deb and Steve, for coming to visit us this weekend!!!!!

Threads


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I have a friend who likes spiders.  She admires their usefulness, happy that they eat so many bugs and garden pests.

She is supremely tolerant of her eight legged friends, even living in peaceful harmony with a black widow spider who lives behind her house.   As my friend told this story, I shuddered in disgust and horror.  I am the proud owner of a serious case of arachnophobia, and I could barely imagine lying down to sleep at night, knowing that just outside my window there lurked a venomous and deadly guest, busily working to ensnare her prey.   I said as much to my friend, but she shook her head at my foolishness.

“But they eat bad bugs.”she said, trying to talk me out of my fear.  “And they build such amazing webs.”  She went on to describe the densely woven tapestries, stretching from wall to wall behind her house, providing a place for the little spider to hide, as well as a source for her sustenance.

She didn’t convince me of the benefits of spiders, of course; I could no more live in the company of  a black widow than I could bring an alligator into the living room as my pet.   But she did get me thinking.

She got me thinking about the threads that form our own life webs.

The black widow conversation took place at a gathering of old friends, people I’ve known for more than 4o years.  As one of our group put it, “These are people who knew me before I had any idea who me would turn out to be.”  Some of us met when we were twelve years old; some even younger.  I’ve known one of them since we were in the second grade!

And here we were, gathering to eat and laugh and catch up with each other at the age of 57!

There are threads that bind me to these people, as surely as the spider’s web connects one wall of my friend’s house to the wall on the other side.  Those ties, those filaments of friendship, bind my life to the lives of my old classmates, and they branch out to the spouses, partners, children and parents of those friends, too. I pictured those little strands of silk being reinforced and strengthened with each visit and each shared memory, like the web of the spider being strengthened as she passes back and forth across it.

Each of us has a web like this, made up of the connections to all of the people in our lives. I know that the strongest, most durable threads in my life are made of the links to my husband and children, and to my parents and siblings.  But each of those links branches off, too, to their friends, loves, partners, parents.

There are threads that bind me to the people at work, and to the people in their lives.  And there are more and more threads, going out and out, building the web that is my life. Threads that spread out to my students and their families, and to the people in my town, and to my doctor and my hairdresser and to the mechanic I’ve known for 23 years now!

And just like the beautiful, intricate web that shelters and nourishes the black widow, the web of my own life provides me with support, shelter and nourishment for my heart and my soul.  And I know that each time I connect with another human being, I am adding a thread to the web of that person’s life, and that each web is joined to millions of others.

I’m still afraid of spiders, but I have become a huge fan of those artful, delicate, ever changing webs, and of all that they provide.

A toast to everyone in my web: thank-you!!!

Best. Weekend. Ever.


Don’t I sound young and hip?  Young people always post updates with a period after each word.

It makes everything so much more emphatic, you know?

Best. Weekend. Ever.

But this weekend was really, truly The. Best.

I had so much fun.

Friday night was spent with our boys, listening to music, drinking beer, having fun, watching them flirt and chat and show how much they have conquered their local world.  Very. Cool.

And Saturday was spent with my baby child, Tim; he let me take him shopping for food, shoes, school supplies.  He is pretty independent, but he let his Mamma indulge her Mammaness and we had a fun (if somewhat expensive) afternoon together.   I was in my element, throwing things into his shopping cart right and left. Peanut butter!  Echinacea! Ibuprofin! Cereal!  Garlic! A good butcher knife!

It was a lovely mishmosh of supplies and it made me feel fulfilled. Then home for a little hot tub time, and a chance to reconnect with Dad.  Lovely.

Discussing life, politics, women and beer.
Nice!

Then his friends came by to pick him up and take him home.  BUT: they stayed for dinner! Oh, joy and more joy! I had three young men and one young woman to feed; nothing on God’s green earth makes me feel more needed and more secure than cooking for hungry young people.  Fresh, organic, locally raised pork on the grill. Fresh, local corn, tomatoes, salad.  A peach tart (local peaches, did you even wonder?) We talked, we laughed, we ate.  Heaven, if I ever get there, will be filled with hungry people for me to feed.

Sunday was a day of relative rest.  Just Paul and I, two big old dogs and a lot of household chores. Let me just say; there were naps.

And today, Labor Day, we went off with friends to kayak.

Oh. My. God.

We were on a gorgeous, pristine lake, floating under a perfect blue sky.  We had cold wine, cold beer, delicious salsa and crackers.  We had people we love, admire, trust and really, truly, enjoy.  We had three hours of uninterrupted fabulousness.

This is a good friend!!!!!

It is most likely the last real day of summer, and we swam in a cool, silky, clean lake with two of the world’s best friends.

I hate to gloat.  Really.  But you know what?

This was, without a doubt

The. Best. Weekend. Ever.

Life. Is. Good.

Another point of view


Last weekend we hosted my brother and his family, my Mom, and my sister and her husband.  They all drove an hour or more to come to our little town to attend a “Fireman’s Muster”, which is a crazy competition in which antique fire trucks try to outdo each other in sending streams of water as far as possible.

I was happy to have them all at my house, and excited to cook and to be the hostess at my humble abode.  But I was more than a little embarrassed to know that they would be seeing my poor, low income, struggling town when they came here.

You see, my mother lives in an upper middle class community of mostly healthy, mostly solvent, mostly successful professionals.  My brother and his family live in one of those historic New England seafaring towns that boast of whaling captains, colonial villages and families Who Came Over On The Mayflower.

My town is poor.  We used to be a textile mill town (in the 1890’s) and a woodworking town (in the 1930’s).  We have had some dairy farms and some small vegetable farms.  But right now, we are a community of lower income, poorly educated, under employed people who are struggling to stay afloat.

I was ashamed to have my family see my environment.

And tonight I attended a birthday party for a friend in our small town. He was turning 50, and a whole group of our friends had gathered to celebrate with him.

As I sipped my wine and nibbled on baked brie, I was somewhat on edge.  Most of my friends have children who are attending good colleges, working toward very practical degrees.  And in the past few days I have had conversations with friends whose kids are in great schools, or have big money jobs, and when they have asked about my kids, I have felt a little, well, protective.  My boys are still figuring it out, and they live in an “interesting” little house with a group of other 20 somethings.

So I stood at the party tonight, feeling defensive about my kids and their life choices.

And here is what has happened to me in the past week. Here is what proves that I am a shallow, conformist, peer pressured jerk.

Last weekend, my sister-in-law spent a couple of hours wandering on her own around my town.  When we got together that afternoon, her comment to me was, “What a beautiful little town! The houses are so gorgeous! You must love living in such a quaint and historic place.”

Um.   Really?

And tonight, at the party for our friend with the highly successful kids, one of those kids asked me, “Have you talked to Matt about going to New York for the Occupy Wall Street anniversary?  I sent him a message, because I really want to go with them.”    Um.  Oh?  And his sister said, “When your kids went to Occupy last fall, I was so excited!  I told everyone, ‘I know those kids! They are from my town!’

I didn’t know what to say.

The conversation swept around me.  The young people from our town were telling each other about where they were when they heard that my three children had been arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in October of last year.   I heard about how teachers at our local High School shared the emails and Facebook messages from my kids.

Apparently, they are local heroes.

In our historic and quaint little town.

Who knew?

I guess it takes a different point of view, from a fresh pair of eyes, to make us appreciate what we really have in our lives.

Tonight, I’m incredibly proud of my activist, hippy children.  I’m also proud of my beautiful, struggling little town, where friends can gather for a birthday party under the late summer stars.