same as I ever was

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.
— toni morrison

I wrote a few days ago about embracing all the iterations of myself. Honoring the transformations through the years is a way of bringing all of me together into one space, one body, into who I am now. 

Tonight, I entered a time machine. I placed a call to she who became my lifeline when I moved nine hundred miles away from home. At twenty-two years old, I moved from here to there, pregnant with my second child, and facing all the adventure with virtually no support system. Until we found a place, the only church I still speak fondly of, and I found her. 

We were virtually inseparable for the four years that I lived in Memphis, TN. Daily phone calls. Family gatherings. Another baby for me. One on the way for her. We did life together. Then within the span of two weeks, I found out we were moving back to the East coast and we were gone. 

My survival technique? Close the door. That part of my life was over. Move on. I had done it all my life. I had been abandoned. I had faced sudden changes before and the way that I dealt with it was to flip the switch. Face forward and keep moving. 

Here's the thing. I had a life there, a wonderful life. Full of wonderful friends. One friend closer than a sister. I lost most when I turned away in order to not feel the grief of leaving. I allowed the phone calls to become less and less. I lost touch. 

Tonight, I heard her voice on the other side of the line for the first time in over five years and for the first time since I began to pry the bars of my cage open and free myself from expectations and guilt. I worried, for a moment, what it would mean to her that I no longer call myself a Christian. I wondered for a moment, what it would mean to her that I am a liberal campaigning for a democratic socialist. I wondered what it would mean to her that I am pro-choice feminist and a LGBT ally. I wondered. for a moment. 

Her first words sang out, "What are YOU doing?!" and I felt embraced by her voice like being welcomed home. We spent an hour talking and catching up, talking about the children. I never told her about my agnostic atheist leanings, I didn't talk about my changing political views ( I am not sure I even had political views way back then) but I didn't have to. I knew that she accepted me as I am. As she always has. 

Several times during out conversation, she reminded me that I was then who I am now. The fire in me now was there then. My tendency to pull away and be alone was present then. It was such a confirmation for me because I keep looking back and seeing different people, different versions of me. It is comforting to know that the core of me, the center of me, is the same now as it was then.

Thank you, Stephanie, for your heart, for your love, for your exuberant spirit. I have missed you, friend. I can hardly wait until we sit together, face to face, soon.