There are certain conversations with old friends that I collect, like polished stones washed up on a beach, carried around and turned over in my hand when I need to find a memory. It may be a lifelong best friend saying she’s glad you’re still in each other’s lives, or it may be your best mommy friend telling you your ass looks great in that one pair of jeans. Not life-altering, late-at-night, spilling your guts out conversations, but just shiny little snippets I carry.
A while ago, I had lunch with a college friend I had not seen since I was her bridesmaid years ago. We’d kept a basic connection on Facebook and watched one another’s adult lives unfold, and she was pregnant with her first child, looking at a job change, and had recently moved to Denver from Phoenix. I can’t recall if she said it was exactly where she wanted to be, but the lunch was wonderful and warm and refreshing, and we reminisced. But the gift she gave to me that day was a comment that she admired how I was following my dreams and living the life I wanted.
It took me by surprise because I’d never thought of my life that way. I’d envied my friends with glamorous, away-from-home jobs and lives I saw as bigger than mine. Days after that I turned that polished stone over and examined it, wondering at my life from an outside perspective. Was I exactly where I wanted to be? Well, no. I would really like to be a bestselling fiction author living in a clean house with new carpet. But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, those are awfully petty things to get caught up in.
I suppose the admirable thing I did was follow my heart to writing and hope it would all turn out. I quit a good job in child development that would have turned into a wonderful career, and went to graduate school for an MFA in Creative Writing. Then I stopped working outside the house altogether to stay home with my babies. I get to write and teach writing from my house, all without missing a milestone or memory with my kids. I am living the life I always wanted as mother, writer, creator. And when I forget – when I feel like I’ve gotten lost in dirty laundry, unvacuumed floors and children’s needs – I take out the polished stone from that day at lunch and remember I’m contributing so much more than that. I followed my heart and let it led me here, to this absolute jackpot of a life I’ve won by taking a chance on my words.