Not too long ago. I was helping my friend K, get ready for a going-away party for her son who was going to Japan to teach for a year. As I hung lights in the tree, preparing for the party, I thought about the good times we have had in her backyard over the years. Our kids practically grew up together so from Pocahontas and Pokemon parties, to First Communion and graduation parties, we’ve covered them all.
As night fell and the party went into its second hour, I stood beneath that tree and took in the whole scene before me. I heard the laughter from the guests and saw their familiar faces, friends connected to us by both joy and tragedy. I saw all the faces of the young adults, those kids we watched grow up, now just reaching adulthood, all so full of promise. I stood there and felt the good solid weight of this life and all those years in this circle of friends, and I knew I was right where I belonged.
Brian, that Certain Very Nice Man I date, asked me once if after I retire I would want to move some place new and different. I immediately answered no. “Sorry,” I said, feeling a bit stodgy and stick-in-the-mudish. “But I really don’t see myself moving unless something pretty dramatic happens.”
That night at the party, I suddenly saw my life as a Spirograph design. Do you remember those sets of rings and geared disks? You may have had one as a kid. You pinned down the outer rings and then inserted a pen in one of the disks and made a design as you went around the ring. By switching out circles, or switching holes, you could layer design upon design.
As I looked at the people at the party, and thought about all the history we share, I saw my life here as one beautiful pattern, one that would not have the depth nor the intricacy had I not made the choices I have made. I am proud to provide "home base" for my kids. I am happy knowing I'll still be here for many years. I look forward to those parties at K's house someday in the future that, I'll just bet, include celebrating grandchildren.
I know the design of my life is not complete. Oh no, not at all. I have many more wheels to choose from, many more patterns to add.
While there is adventure and romance in moving, there is also a beauty in staying put, in pinning your circle to a firm place, in choosing the colors of your design carefully, gracefully changing out the wheels when the time is right.
I celebrate the opulent complexity of time spent in one place.