I realized then, in that Living Room that only existed for Five Nights of Six Girls’ Lives Somewhere Square in the Season of Giving, that if you find something inside of yourself that can be given to make another fly when you are no longer there to compare wings, then you give it.
“It was two years ago.
Can you believe it?”
Her message pops up on the screen, the corners of the chat box cutting into the layers of ugly Christmas sweater images sitting in my newsfeed.
“The Living Room,” I type.
I know she is talking about the Living Room. I know it will lead into a conversation that will be both good and bad. Both the tangs of sweet and bitter. We’ve never felt anything like those five days. It has not been the same since. She knows it. I know it.
You don’t know how this blog started. Not a single one of you. And if you did, you would realize that it was all one big, giant accident. Two years in the making and it all started with an accident. This blog only exists because two arm chairs, a tangle of tree lights, a battery-powered candle, five other girls and a Living Room existed first.
The five of them might be reading this right now and if they are then I want to make sure they hear this: To the girl in an office space in Boston: I am lucky to know you; I wish I told you that more often. To the girl curled up in the campus center with a coffee in her hand, waiting for the next campus meeting: Dinner last weekend wasn’t enough to get out how much I miss you these days. To the ambitious young lady scrolling through this post on her BlackBerry as she gives herself a break from the law school text books: I am your biggest fan because you’ve always been mine. And to the two world shakers, sitting side by side in Kansas City: I could not be more proud of you.
It started Two years ago Today with just Two of us sitting in Two oversized arm chairs, probably at Two in the afternoon. We decided to maneuver the beastly chairs into the middle of our campus center’s stage, sit them around a fake Christmas tree that breathed a sense of Home for the Holidays into the both of us with its pretty little plastic limbs. Any college student knows that it is important to claw and clutch these moments where the holiday season miraculously shows up amidst a chaotic cluster of final papers and tests.
We came back to the two arm chairs and the tree later that night. Another one joined us.
Three Arm Chairs. Two 12-Page Papers. One Tree. And we decided to call it our Living Room.
Another night. Two more girls joined us.
Five Book Bags. Four Arm Chairs. Three Laptops. Two 12-Page Papers. One Tree.
And one battery-powered candle that provided us with flicker of fake glow with one flick of a switch. We roared in laughter over that candle. Oh, how it glowed. We figured that a Living Room needed pictures, so we brought frames. And a candy bowl. What is a living room without a candy bowl?
The last girl tapped in. She demanded a kitchen. She studied better in Kitchens than Living Rooms. So we extended our Living Room and added a table and chairs.
Eight Red Cups. Seven Leftover Brownies. Six Girls. Five Book Bags. Four Arm Chairs. Three Laptops. Two (still not done) 12-Page Papers. One Tree.
Six girls, headphones plugged into their computers, all humming to a different tune but consciously inching closer and taking turns in pointing out that it might never be this way again. One would head for Rome. Another for Prague. One would graduate. They pointed out the hard stuff: that it would never be this way again.
And they were right. Never since then have the six of them shared a single space where the laughter is just the right amount of Heavy and their dreams sing loud enough, above the Christmas carols, just how true they planned to become one day.
At the time, I had this WordPress page and two blog posts. Already, I hated blogging. The whole thought of it scratched at the back of my neck like a tag left carelessly on the shirt collar. Until one of our nights of endless studying in the Living Room, one of the girls started to ache. Her heart swelled. She needed something beyond a life chat or a hug, a reminder that she’d be ok. I remember walking away from the Living Room that night, plugging my computer into the wall and soaking in the silence as I played with words like cold broccoli and wrote to her. Tap,tap,tap & Publish. I remember thinking: there is so much that we cannot give to one another but I suppose there is trying.
This blog was born out of that Living Room. That Try. That Give. That realization that I never wanted a space for me if I could find a way to make it about someone else. And from it I’ve learned that our lives might never be so much about ourselves as they are about the people who sit beside us. Who Round Our Dinner Table. Who Call Us First, After We’ve Hammered Our Pain into a Text Message. The ringer on our phone goes off and already we can hear them saying, I don’t care if you are sobbing, just speak.
I realized then, in that Living Room that only existed for Five Nights of Six Girls’ Lives Somewhere Square in the Season of Giving, that if you find something inside of yourself that can be given to make another fly when you are no longer there to compare wings, then you give it. That, while you sit in a moment as pristine as the seconds after all the flakes have settled to the bottom of the snow globe in your hands, that we really don’t get any kind of Forever with One Another. We get Chances. We get Moments. We get Raw Opportunities. We get Doors Wide Open. We get Unforgettable. But we don’t get Forever’s. Never. Ever. If we knew that now, and if we remembered every time we found our feet standing beside someone we wish the world for, what would we give? How would we give? Would it be everything? Would it be more than we could ever imagine?
Some days I think about it, how I’d give anything to go back there to the Living Room to the Six Girls Who Made It Home, to thank them all for giving me this starting thread in a tapestry that has mended hearts, inspired others, and Grew Me Up in the best way possible.
I know I’d have given more if I really stopped to think about the Forever that would escape us all in the moment, slip from our fingers like the holiday season. I know I’d have said it more: I love you but I’ll never keep you here, far away from flying. But promise to turn back sometimes and tell me how you’re soaring.