My friend Turia invited me over for a fall gathering at her home last week, and I forgot to bring my phone which contained her address. Since she’d just moved, I drove around the dimly lit streets looking for her signature door wreath, and finally arrived 30 minutes late.
I have raised an eyebrow at the idea of being involved in a social group for a long time. Even at a Halloween party in the first grade, I clearly recall looking around the room at my costumed classmates, and noting whom I thought would be the popular kids. I knew too that I had the right stuff to be one of them if I wanted to be, and so I pondered it briefly, then decided against it. And that decision, which I’ve made repeatedly over my lifetime, sat in my solar plexus when Turia opened the door to greet me.
“Melanee, I am soooo glad you came!” she bounced, her arms outstretched to hug me like she hadn’t seen me in forever. And she did hug me, in such a sincere, unselfconscious embrace of love that all I could do was reciprocate with joyful surprise.
I didn’t expect that kind of welcome, nor did I expect the swell of elated greeting all of my other friends gave me too, as they all moved around the table so I could have the most comfortable chair, and then brought me a warm dessert and spiced tea too.
When friends I adore call me, write me, or come to visit me at my home, I am always very enthusiastic and expressive, because I have this tendency to spill love and affection from my pores. But I’m not used to receiving it this way, and I liked it. I felt wholly loved and included. I felt like I mattered to them and would have been missed had I not come.
I’m still an independent at heart and always will be, mostly because I want the freedom to recreate myself and my life at any moment, and because I always want people to feel included by me. But those whom I love and call my friends, I love with a deep emotion and a tender gratitude that would surprise even them. Just like Turia’s hug did me, and I thank her for it, and for all my friends who welcomed me with joy tonight.