I woke up with a song in my heart.
Today the world celebrates the romantic, happily ever after love found in movies.
I got up a little earlier than usual and wandered out into the cold morning and flipped on the furnace. I took myself to the kitchen and got out the frying pan to make my boys a Valentine’s breakfast.
With love, I tucked a little extra bacon in the egg burrito before hugging boy number one and sending him out for his early morning class with lunch in one hand and breakfast in the other.
I sat in the darkness with a dim light shining down on me and wrote down a few of the many love stories that have filled my life. None of them look like the Hollywood version of driving away into the sunset.
Mine are different.
The greatest and most enduring love stories of my life have been with friends.
These stories are made of the moments like when I drove three hours with my friend Joyce to visit our friend Annette then drove three hours home and had to drive around the block one more time because we hadn’t finished our conversation.
It’s the way Kristi’s whole aura lights up when she sees me and she yells, “Debbie Beach!” even though I’ve been Deb Evans for over twenty years.
It’s the way I look forward to going to the gym just to see Denise and Cindy smile at me when I walk in the door.
It’s the road trip last year with Amy when we laughed like it was spring break 1996, and we didn’t have a worry in the world even though her husband is sick and needs a kidney and my world felt like it weighed ten thousand pounds.
It’s the way Rachel and I laugh before we even say a single word on the phone.
It’s the way another Rachel tells me it’s time to go on a trip and she doesn’t care where because we’ll have fun just going to the bathroom together.
It’s the low days when I knock on Tara’s door and fall into her arms and tell her I just need a hug and she scoops me up and pats my head and just sits with me until I feel better.
It’s when I haven’t seen Jennifer since junior high, but her posts light up my day and she still makes me laugh. It’s the way my heart breaks for her when I read the post last month about her 6-month-old granddaughter unexpectedly returning to heaven.
It’s the way Kellie turns up her Aussie accent when she flies in from Melbourne to teach all my Newberg friends how to tribal belly dance.
It’s when I get a message from Tracey telling me she read my post and just wanted me to know that she loves me.
It’s the way Shirley’s eyes only see the good in me.
It’s how Ashley comes to stay at my house every summer, and we climb the dumb sand dune at Pacific City with our boys and it’s always cold and each year we say we won’t do it again…and then we do it again.
It’s how comfortable I feel just hanging out with Fiona.
It’s the way Susan and Steve are always up for any kind of party and never hesitate to bring the fun!
It’s when Phyllis shares every single post I make for every single business I own, and I wonder if her other friends want to poke my eyes out reading about vinyl and escape rooms and my recently cleaned desk.
It’s when Ron says he needs to borrow my keys to move my car so he can get his car out, then sneaks away to get the oil changed for me.
It’s when Mary knows the financial burden feels heavy sometimes and asks me to deliver a Craigslist purchase on my return trip from Idaho to a lady in Portland. Upon delivery, she tells me it would be best if I just kept the $200 “because that was her plan all along.”
It’s when Val just sends me a single word message that says “Ding.” and I know it means she’s thinking of me.
I had to stop my list and get dressed. I dropped the second son off at school and went to the gym to walk on the treadmill, and while I did, I thought about the memories of potlucks and board games, the dances, the retreats, the road trips, the friends that showed up to help with my latest project, the laughter, the conversations, the lunches and the time spent together.
My mind filled with the moments when friends showed up on a Saturday morning to help me move… AGAIN…and how people rearranged their schedule to come to my last minute party. It’s the times that people put their hands on my sons’ shoulders or gave them an encouraging word or listened to them talk about their future.
These are the things that have made my love story beautiful. These are the moments that have filled my life with love.
I’ve fallen in love with dozens of friends over the years. I’ve met them in the most unexpected places and with little more than an introduction, we were drawn into each other’s lives.
They’ve charmed me with their humor, delighted me with their wit and astounded me with their goodness. My eyes light up when I see them, and the unconditionality of our friendship fills the emptiest parts of my heart. They feel like home to me.
Thank you to every single one of you that have added a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence or a kind word to my love story.
I hold them carefully in my heart.