Last summer, on one steamy August night I sat on the couch. I was having another late night talk with Jackie. She lives just down the way. I wanted to sit with her on her porch and drink a glass of wine and tell stories. But Max was sleeping and it was late and I am, after all a single mom. “What you need”, she said, “is a roommate.” It was a leap for me to agree with her since I had come to value my solitude in the years since Juan had left but I leapt and I had to agree with her.
My roommate Odette and I were sitting hunched over the kitchen counter, counting cash and making plans for what to do to deal with her daughter Grace’s diagnosis with TB, the fact that her younger child Lillian too had been exposed, that her entire family back home in Africa was at risk for developing the disease. “Do you think everyone in the family should be tested?” I asked her. “Yes,” she said, claiming her power as a matriarch. “Yes, I do.” Max looked at me with wide eyes, “Mom–will a TB test hurt?” I looked at him shocked. “We’re not getting tested baby,”. “But why not,” he said, his eyes still wide with fear, “We are her are family.”
Yes, we are. I think about the crazy path that took us from that moment in August to this moment now–this recognition that we are more than friends, more than housemates. That we are family. And I think, I never ever would have ended up here had it not been for a wild crazy leap.
Back in August, Jackie and I walked the dogs and plotted about how I would find a roommate. Someone who would accept our terms but who would be nevertheless a good fit for us. But I needed someone who would trade heavily reduced rent for the regular babysitting and for agreeing to stay home so I could run over to Jackie’s for a glass of wine after Max had gone to sleep. Where would I find someone like that? The thought of finding anyone who fit the bill seemed downright impossible.
Tonight, Odette and sat at the table eating ice cream. We looked at each other and exclaimed, “What would I do with out you?” “NO…what would I have done without YOU?” “No what WOULD I HAVE DONE WITHOUT YOU?” Neither of us can get over the miracle of how we stumbled into finding each other when we needed exactly what the other had to offer.
The story of how she came into our life was magical, a story which will need to be told another day. I never needed to post an ad, I never needed to interview candidates. I found her and she needed a place to stay. We made the decision in a half hour sitting in the living room of a mutual friend. Cheap rent in exchange for cheap babysitting seemed like a really good deal. But what I never really understood was that when she walked into our house and settled in that I had found a long lost sister. That when she moved in she would bring sisterhood with her in her suitcase.
When Odette walked into our house back in September we both took a leap of faith. We had no idea what this experiment would have in store for us, how much we would each gain from this arrangement. We were two strangers who would have to deal with each other in pretty extreme and unusual circumstances.
She came to our house searching for her freedom and in coming gave me mine too. She came searching for a safe spot but ended up providing a safe space for Max. She came looking for a place to rest her head, but she instead has offered a shoulder where I rest on the nights when I feel weary or sad.
I am rambling here, not quite sure what or how I want to say. I think it something about leaping–about listening to your heart when it tells you to jump. I think it is about recognizing doors that open intentionally, answering prayers–about realizing that life unfolds in patterns that may not make sense at the time but with hindsight open with perfectly timed synchronicity.
The blogosphere is full this week of stories of leaping into sacred, scary places. Of feeling the fear and doing it anyhow. Of trusting and relaxing into what seems absolutely the right place to go. Of saying, “I got the life that I needed.”
I am not always sure why I got this crazy life instead of the one I had always imagined I would have. But one thing is abundantly clear to me as I get myself ready for sleep this night.
I am grateful for the leaping.