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Thursday, November 1, 2012

For a reason, a season or a lifetime.

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, although sometimes that reason is very hard to find. I also think people come in and out of your life for a reason. Sometimes they are there to help you through a hard time, or to help you see things from a different perspective. And sometimes they leave your life rather abruptly, and you never see them again. Maybe that's because your lives take different paths, or because you just don't have anything in common anymore.

I like it when those people come back into your life again, even for a fleeting moment, so you can see how things have changed between you, and possibly have what they call 'closure'. Like closing the book on that chapter of your life.

When I was a young mom of twenty-one, I met some women who taught me a lot about motherhood and married life. But they had to drag me out of the house to do it. I didn't suffer from post-partum depression, but I spent those first few days at home with my new baby feeling quite bewildered and overwhelmed. I think I was in shock. I had a brand new life looking at me calmly with old-soul eyes, rarely crying, always trusting that I would know how to care for her.

One day there was a knock at the door. I answered it to see a pretty young mom standing there, holding the hand of one child, another on her hip. "Well? Does that kid have two heads or are you going to bring her out so we can see her?"

Ann was (and probably still is) a loud, colourful, beautiful personality that drew people to her. She pulled me into her circle and introduced me to my first friends as a new mom. One of those women was Mia. I think she had five children when I moved out of that townhome development and lost track of her. Now she has seven kids and three grandchildren. Facebook, as much as I curse it somedays, brought us back together.

Yesterday I got to sit and chat with Mia for three hours. We spilled secrets, confided hopes and fears and dreams, shared proud parenting moments and pored over photo albums. We had really good Italian coffee, then Pinot Grigio, arugula salad with pecans, then more Italian coffee. Finally it was time to say goodbye. I hope it won't be another twenty years before we see each other again.

I often wonder about Ann. She was an important person in my life when I needed cool young mom role-models. We don't live far apart, she ended up just about half an hour from where I live now. Our paths have crossed briefly over the past twenty years, once by accident, once by planned visit, once over the phone. I would like to see her again.

The past twenty years have encompassed three different lives for me: young stay-at-home mom, expat foreigner overseas, and now farmwife. Sometimes I can't keep track. I have lost chunks of memory and confused details of one life with another.

Intangible memories can be summoned up alongside tangible things: smells, sounds, sights. The season of fall reminds me of these things from my three different lives: wrapping a baby head to toe and stuffing her in a Snugli strapped to my chest so we can venture out, warm bottle and cup of coffee in hand, to stand at the park and visit with the other moms and children, running from the subway station to the bus stop in a blustery autumn storm in Taipei, the stench of fermented tofu and the perfume of wild orchids following me from the street market, the scent of the outdoors on my husband's cold cheek when he kisses me after coming in from a sunrise hunt in his deer stand.

As I walk the dog and breathe in the smell of the fall leaves, even earlier memories move to the forefront - memories that most of us have, of raking and then jumping into leaf piles, biting into a crisp McIntosh apple, the smell of a pumpkin when you reach in and pull out a handful of wet seeds.

While things turn brown all around us, take a moment to stop, smell and listen to the Earth as it prepares for winter. It's an amazing thing, and they don't have an app for it.

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