Why is it that as we grow older, we abandon things that made us so happy as children?
When I was ten, the epitome of fun was a sleepover with friends. Either I’d be invited by my best friend, Kimberly, or I’d invite her. Either way, we’d be doing a whole lot more than sleeping!! We’d braid hair, try on each other’s clothes, eat pizza and chocolate, play music, sing, and dance.
Sleepovers were always an opportunity to stay up late talking, telling stories, giggling about the past, dreaming of our futures. We didn’t know it back then, but those late nights were an opportunity to connect and get real with each other. As we lay on the carpet floor in our sleeping bags, fighting to stay awake past our usual bedtimes, we’d reveal secrets only to each other in those dwindling moments in the dark.
Well, I for one still love talking into the wee hours of the night with my best friends and what better way to create that kind of moment again than with an adult sleepover?
On an ordinary Friday afternoon, I leave the city, my backpack loaded with one change of clothes and my pajamas. I feel wiped out by the heat and the hustle of the week. The thermometer on my car reads 95 degrees as I drive west into the drooping sun toward Rockville, the home of some of the best friends I’ve ever had. The excuse is picking blueberries, but the reality is it’s been a while, and it’s time to catch up!
This drive I could do in my sleep. At a red light, I recall all the times I drove my kids on this same route when they were still in grade school. We’d usually drive out on a Friday right after school and spend the weekend. The hour-and-a-half trek through Avon and Danville in bumper to bumper traffic seemed to take forever with their little voices begging, “Are we almost there? Whe-e-e-n will we get there?”
“Soon,” was my only reply, until they got old enough and experienced enough to learn the landmarks along the way. Then it was they that announced, “Look, the red church! That means we’re almost there!”
But tonight, I’m alone behind the wheel, no kids in tow, just me. And no sooner do I pull in my friends’ drive than I feel completely at ease. Coming here is a lot like coming home. Partially because their farm, DreamTree is far enough out in the country that it has a laid back vibe of the wild where nothing is mandatory. Time slows down and stress evaporates like water on a hot rock in the sun. I instantly feel more myself.
I change out of my work clothes and into some comfy jeans and a t-shirt. In the kitchen, Vaughn prepares greens for a salad, spinach, arugula, mâche, kale and lettuce, all grown in their front yard garden. Julie and I sit down to the kitchen table with some jazz playing in the background and pour some red wine. We’re already falling into lively conversation and we’ve barely taken a sip.
We eat the salad, taking our time to relish the iron-rich summer harvest. Our meal conversation centers around my experiences as an AirBnB host. I tell them my stories in response to their questions. They’ve both been thinking about hosting as an additional source of income and I encourage them.
Sitting in a semi-circle on their covered porch in the fading twilight, serenaded by night birds, cicada and an occasional shriek of owl, we talk late into the evening. Our conversations spin webs of today and tomorrow intersecting with the history we share of 25 years. We encourage each other to be brave and bold in life. I tell about the times I’m not, my fears about financial security and my dreams about writing more books.
These are things I don’t share with everyone. But in the cooling evening, I know I can speak freely because these are my people, handpicked by the Universe to support me on my journey – not only to keep me company, but buoy me up when I’m down and cheer for me when I’m floating high on Cloud 9. All things I’d do for them in an instant.
At one point we get up and walk out into the yard to get a better view of the stars. By this point, I’m already a little tipsy so gazing into the expansive sky seems overwhelming. Yet still I feel safe despite feeling small. What I love most about being with these people is that I feel accepted for who I am. I know I don’t have to prove myself to them and I don’t even try.
As the sounds of the night dissipate and become still, I admit I can barely keep my eyes open anymore. The Cabernet and the Milky Way have finally won. I excuse myself to my room and check my phone just before I drop off to sleep. It’s 1:24 am. Sleepover success.
We ease into the morning, all a little hung over. The dogs energetically wrestle around on the porch outside while it’s still cool enough to get excited. Around the coffee table we rehash the remnants of last night’s conversations over tea, coffee, eggs and mushrooms. We take the hours as a gift we open slowly, appreciating the artful way life has been wrapped for us.
At 11 am we don our hats and carry bowls into the fruit-laden bushes. Blueberries love love it here. Vaughn and Julie have spent years amending the soil in their garden with local cow manure and sawdust from Vaughn’s woodworking shop. The berry bushes produce bumper crops that must be picked every 3-4 days for about 3 weeks.
Standing in the 90+ heat, we roll fat indigo berries off the stems and into our hands. We talk about learning and self-acceptance, two things Julie and I have been passionate about for a while. She asks me if the heat bothers me and I say, “no, as long as I don’t complain about it.”
Yet a stream of sweat rolls down my back and belly, soaking my shirt. With the sun beating down, I recall another time when standing the heat was just a matter of acceptance and letting go of things being any other way. In that moment, free of expectations, free of need, I spot a streak of brilliant red, “look,” a scarlet tanager darts across the sky, alighting on a nearby tree and watches us.
Finding your people, your tribe is about how you show up for others and invest in their life as if it were intricately intertwined with your own. I think it’s about being curious and helpful and wanting for others what they want. It’s about listening to the dreams of others, seeing the joy and passion floating there, and fanning the flames of their desire. Relationships like this are built on moments of support and love over the years that add up over time. People are the best investment you can make in your future.
Most of us get sparks of soul connection with others. It’s kind of instantaneous, that feeling that we just get each other on a deeper level than most. Love is what you do with that spark. With no evidence of what it will become, can you gently care for it and blow on it until it resembles a flame? Can you protect it, nurture it and help it to grow in its own complex way – the way a berry bush sets its limbs twisting awkwardly to the sky without rhyme or reason to bear its beautiful fruit?
Thanks my friends for reading! I hope you always feel welcomed, loved and supported by this blog. It’s my love-offering to you. Praying that your spark becomes a flame that will light the world!