The first six months we lived in Montgomery, I cried at least once a week. Okay, maybe like two-four times a week, but let's not worry about those minor details. I cried because we were living in our house while remodeling the kitchen (I will never, ever do that again!), I cried because a volunteer was mean to me at work, I cried because I was homesick, and I cried a lot because I missed living so close to Susanne, Abby, and Ashley, three of my best friends in Birmingham.
When we first moved to Montgomery, we had a handful of friends. But, everyone was busy so it was hard to spend a lot of time hanging out. On Friday nights, Raleigh and I would go out to eat on a date (which wasn't so bad because back then we could actually afford a nice meal without kids), watch a movie (at the theater, not rental), and make our way back home. Sure, that was fun, but then on Saturday night we had no one to hang out with. So, the two of us played rock band on the Play Station (I killed some vocals, y'all...actually I think our neighbors thought a cat had gotten stuck under our porch). Thank goodness I actually liked hanging out with my husband because he was my only friend. We were the lonely new kids in town but at least we had each other.
Then, I met Stephanie. She was the wife of one of Raleigh's co-workers. Stephanie and her husband had moved to Montgomery only a year before and they were still trying to find a church. So, the four of us began what us Southerners like to call "church-shopping." We'd visit big churches, small churches, churches that drank wine at communion (all out of the same goblet...I just couldn't do it without praying that the germs would not wreck my soul), and churches that stuck to grape fruit. After big church, we'd all stroll down the church hallway where Sunday School groups met and we'd casually peek our head in the window to see if any of the people in the class looked like potential friends. Yes, we judged by appearances. We learned the hard way that a girl might look to have one kid but find her later with a wagon full of kids under and above the age of five. Let's just say we decided not to make small talk.
Through this season of church-shopping, Stephanie and I attended a Beth Moore Bible Study together every Wednesday night. The church was across town and we lived just a few blocks apart, so we decided to ride together instead of both driving. It was on these weekly rides that Stephanie and I became the very best of friends. Every night, when she dropped me off at my front door, I'd wave goodbye and tell God thank you for giving me a friend in Montgomery.
KC, (with Collins who we can't wait to meet!), & Stephanie
Soon after that, Ashley (my best friend since grade school) hooked us up with a couple she and her husband were friends with in college. KC & JW instantly became the ying to our yang. JW and Raleigh were like girls - texting all the time and going to see movies together (they may or may not have seen one of the Twilight saga's...) and KC and I shared clothes, workouts, and tips about how to pump and dump if either of us slipped in a margarita at a Mexican restaurant.
David, Raleigh, & JW
Suddenly, we had friends. Like plural. And, then after a series of events, Stephanie and David, and Raleigh and I became co-leaders of our small group at St. James (a church that drank grape fruit, had cute young people, and really great music/message). After that, the friends started coming out of the coin slots like we'd just won three cherries in a row. I truly felt like I had won the lottery with Stephanie, KC, Laura, and Abbey.We all had girls within months of one another and we were an inseparable bunch.
Oliva, Zoe, Mary Harris, Adeline & Maralee
But, then God had different plans for me and Raleigh. He uprooted us from our friends-turned-family in Montgomery and called us home to the families he placed us in all those years ago. This move has been part of his plan from the very beginning, but that doesn't mean it has been easy.
Ashley, Camryn & Claire, Maralee & Adeline, Me
There has been so much fulfillment in moving home. It is where both of our souls breathe deeply and where we want to leave our legacy. We value our hometown and our families. We are slowly making new friends that are such a gift and re-connecting with high school friends. We find satisfaction in the work we are doing and the people we are surrounded with. But, I still have those nights that I cry; wishing for my Montgomery friends.
What has made this move even more difficult is not only did Raleigh and I leave behind some great friends, but our girls were uprooted from their very first friends.To them, they knew nothing else. Now, suddenly they don't get to go on walks with Mary Harris or chase pigs in Olivia and Zoe's backyard. They miss Sunday pool dates with Laney and Kindermusik with Lilly Broox. My girls are having to start over with making friends on the playground, and so are we.
The thing is, I've been resistant to start over. I like what I had and I want it still. But, when we hugged goodbye on Sunday after an afternoon of fun, we drove two hours home. We pulled into the house made of wood, not our cottage made of brick. It hurt; this leaving. But, it also was healing.
We might not live in Montgomery anymore but that doesn't stop people from being your friends. The thing I'm learning about friendship is what I was taught in Brownies all those years ago, "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." It doesn't seem like those friendships are of the old but when we moved, that part of our lives became a bittersweet memory. We loved, we laughed, we cried, we hugged. I will never, ever forget those sweet early-adult bonds that we made in Montgomery with those precious people. But, I've got to love and let go. Our family has to try to make new friends but keep the old.
To me, a good friend is like a boomerang.
That friend might be swung out from where she started but if she's a good friend, she will always come back to you. I want to always be a good friend to my Montgomery girls, just like I want to be a good friend with my Birmingham girls. I might not get to know everything like I would if I lived in the daily with these ladies, but I'll always do my best to come back and be there for the miracles given to us in life.
Stephanie, me, KC, & Laura
God created us to live life together. The beauty of today is we can still be friends even if we don't live right down the road. Good friends are an investment in life; something that we can't do without. With each passing year, some friendships will be silver, while others are gold. But, both are fine pieces of jewelry that I can't live without.
What about you? Have you ever had to leave friends you love and start over again? What have you done to make this transition easier?
Till next time, let your light shine!