A Timely Friend

I know I have to get used to it, but I don’t have to like it. The hard part about being nomadic is making new friends and then so quickly saying goodbye. Sometimes it is I who do the leaving, but sometimes a new friend sails off and leaves me feeling grateful, but forlorn. We have recently befriended another sailing family with whom we discovered common values—Davina is a fellow mom who has courageously left the dirt and submersed herself in the sailing world. But it is time for them to move on, and I’m so grateful for even that short time we shared. I’m hoping we’ll see them “out there” before too long. If I’ve learned anything about the sailing community, it is that their world is small and they keep bumping into each other at opportune moments.

In looking back over my life, I see how the right girlfriend has always been there at the right time, and so this is my humble tribute to those women who have helped make my life full and satisfying.

I don’t even know when it started. I have always had a friend—and I don’t take that for granted, because the world doesn’t promise that you’ll always have a companion for the journey. But I’m still friends with the girl who walked with me to school when we were six. I consider this a blessing.

I moved a lot as a kid, but everywhere we went, I made a friend. Of course, I’ve lost touch with many of them, but they all made the transitions to new places easier. There was Amanda in Texas, Jeni and Aubrey in Florida, Susan and Rebecca in high school, Heather during my college years in Vermont, and Kim and Amy in Paris. The same has been true in my adult life; Ellen, Kim, and Rhianna were there when I was a newlywed, figuring out what it means to be a good wife. Jen, Debbie, Angela and Sharon helped me as a beginning teacher. There were fellow moms like Becca and Annie to help me adjust to motherhood. Nicole helped me through a tough year when we moved back to Florida and I felt so lonely. And my neighbor, Tarin, went out of her way to make me feel welcome in Clearwater, and became like a sister during our time there. There were the homeschooling moms who met me when I was just getting started. Joan, Tina, Tracy, and Mindy had older kids that helped me see that the investment was worth it, and Kim, Mary and Margo were—and are—in the trenches with me. There were others who mentored me, or prayed with me, or just took me under their wing, people like Kim, Mary, Linda, Janice, Jan, Anne and Betty. And countless others. It’s starting to sound like an Academy Award acceptance speech. And how could I forget my sister, Sascha, sisters-in-law, Tennille and Robin, my cousin Gretchen, my mom, and my two mothers-in-law? Maybe I do take them for granted, but how fortunate I am to have that luxury…I know they love me no matter what, and they are never farther than a phone call away.

With this fruitful history, I shouldn’t be surprised that the transition to living on our boat came with the introduction of new girlfriends, but somehow it is always amazing when I find a kindred spirit. I am surrounded by the five people I love the most in this world, but I still get lonely sometimes for a good girlfriend. And just when I am missing the old ones the most, a new one turns up.

Learning to sail brought Josie, a teacher who became a friend, and Lupe and Leighia helped me figure out how sailing families adjust to living aboard. I met Kristin when our family was divesting itself of our worldly goods—including a vast children’s library and teaching supplies. I know that stuff will not go to waste, and how lucky I was to share the time in Bradenton with her and her precious family. When I was feeling lonely and isolated, a family with four boys sailed into our marina last winter and I found instant fellowship with Vicki.

It was Vicki’s advice, and example, to pray for a friend when I come to a new place, that I will take to heart. I don’t consider it an accident that my life has been interwoven with others’ so seamlessly. And whether we get to travel together for a few days or a few years, I will be grateful for the time we’ve got. I can just say, like that rambling award winner—Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!