I finally recycled the Christmas cards from last year. The first one in our mailbox, like a mechanical cuckoo busting out of its hatch, gave me permission.
As I dropped the pile of cards that had been hanging like its own bunting banner in our kitchen for a full year, the arms of two places reached and held me for a moment. It was liminal. Liminal meaning the way one can occupy two places at once, on the edges of both places. I was moving from the last year’s place of assurance to this year’s unknowns. Last year we were well-remembered and well-loved. This year, we hope it is the same or better.
It’s just paper, Kendra. It’s paper and humble-brag and holly. But it’s more than a steady stream of smile grams and glossy postcards. It’s a letter to the Kendrinthians. It’s trust that the tide will rush back in this month. It’s believing that the smiles by mail will say, We remembered you. Here is a new way to remember us in your mind’s eye, with our rad plaids and dandy bowties.
I have only learned how to be a good friend in recent years. Embarrassingly recent. I’ve been surrounded by a big family and endless acquaintances for my entire life. I’ve faked extroversion and gushed over connections and given salutatorian addresses to loud applause. All the while I’ve been lonely as hell. I stood behind the Dairy Queen counter and customers told me not to smile so much. I went home and wore out my Tori Amos “Little Earthquakes” cassette and soaked my pillow with salty tears. There are places worn thin in my girlhood bedroom carpet, wear I knelt in the sad Boo Radley isolation that only a melodramatic teen could ever maintain. I’ve been surrounded and smother-hugged and had to pull away to get some air. For years.
I hadn’t learned to embrace the good within yet. How could I let myself be embraced from without?
It took learning that He is Goodness and He abides in me to change the tide. Once I realized that a holy portion of Goodness rocks it on my insides, what was there not to love? It’s not self-love–it’s a love of a Creator who occupies broken vessels and fills in the gaps with an adhesive that is stronger than any force I know, which has flooded me to overflowing. It has been liminal space. Realizing the love that was within me was also the love I have to give. Realizing always that I am at the edge of a love so great, it can overflow without doing damage. The love spills out and for maybe the last seven years, I’ve learned to be the kind of good-ass friend I would want. In turn, I have been blessed and highly favored by good-ass friends. I’m grateful and wealthy indeed.
I’m wishing a dear lady a happy birthday today. You taught me that kindness is a prettier dress than judgypants. I thank you.