Chuck and I were living in our first house in the subdivision Pecan Grove, outside of Richmond, Texas. We had 3 children under the age of 5 and were drowning in diapers, dirty laundry and bills. We survived the weeks so we could do chores all weekend. Most of the neighbors on our street were also young parents and doing the same. While I liked my neighbors, the only thing most of had in common was the ear infections our children suffered. You know the conversation....."we're on the 3rd ear infection"....."yea, well mine has her 4th and she's allergic to Amoxycillin." yawn.
Most of the women on my street worked outside the home. I was a stay-at-homer at the time and struggling to make that work for us. The hardest part for Chuck was the one income but for me it was the social aspect. With little to no money, lunches at the country club was not an option. My social network consisted of talking on the cordless phone while changing diapers and stirring the pots on the stove.
The spring of '91, I was invited to a baby shower at a neighbor's house that lived on another street. While there, I met other women who also lived in the area but on other streets. One woman in particular just seemed so fun. So nice. A new friend maybe. Close enough to be called a neighbor but not on my street.
A few months later, I ran into this woman, named Linda, again when I was out walking. A family had moved in across from her and they were all outside in Linda's yard. The new neighbor, who later I learned was named Debbie, was catering to her little boy who had just taken a fall and I will swear to this day that the minute she turned to look at me, I felt a zing. A zing. Like I know you. I've known you forever.
Within days, I had a new group of friends. It turns out that my oldest child was in the same kindergarten class with another family on this same street. I now knew 3 families on the street just before ours in the neighborhood I had lived in for 8 years. Ahhh. Life was good. Our children got along. Our husbands got along. We had great conversations. And lots and lots of margaritas over a great game of Pictionary on many Friday evenings.
This time in my life was so fun. So fulfilling. I was 34 years old and it was the time of my life.
I was staying home. Raising children. Changing diapers. Cleaning toilets. Cooking good dinners. Doing crafts. But this wasn't the fulfilling part. Did you really think it was? Nope. The fulfilling part was this sisterhood of friends I had acquired while doing all those things. We laughed. We traded stories. We did a little male bashing. We babysat each other's children. We were in a babysitting co-op and a bunco group together. We gave parties. We let out steam during major PMS attacks. We were all trying to make ends meet and stay home with our children. We took care of one another.
One funny story from those good old days.....We were all at Linda's corner house with kids running around, in and out of the backyard, moms talking and laughing. After an hour or more of letting the kids play, we all gathered our things to leave. Linda gave me a grocery sack of some hand-me-downs to take home for Will to wear. I put the sack on my hip and gathered my chicks for the walk down the block and around the corner. As I got to the edge of my yard, I looked at my 2 girls, then at the toddler on my hip............only .................it wasn't a toddler...........it was a grocery sack!!! I had forgotten Will! I grabbed my girls and we turned and headed back to Linda's running.
Linda? Debbie? My good friends? They met me in the yard with Will......laughing and asking me if I had forgotten something. And you know that story got told a time or two at my expense.
I knew then that what we had was "the good old days." I had a feeling that it wouldn't last forever....because it was so dang good. And sure enough it did slowly come to an end. One by one husbands got new jobs that transferred them out of state. Tears were shed. Promises were made to stay in touch. And Christmas cards have been sent for well over a decade now.
There is always a nucleus in a group like that. You know the one person that keeps the group going. The one that instigates the parties. Plans the trips to the mall. Calls the happy hour. Finds the best preschool. Always has snacks on hand in her pantry. She's the nucleus. And ours was Linda.
The group began to dissolve when Linda moved to California. The night before she moved away, we all stood out on the street corner and hugged and sobbed. Ugh. I am tearing up now just remembering that night. I knew in the deepest place in me that it would never be the same. The group would slowly begin to disintegrate.
And it never was. Linda moved. Then Grizel moved to Florida. Then Debbie moved to Georgia. Nails in my coffin.
I knew it was the good old days. I knew then that I was in the middle of it. I'm writing this post in honor of Linda. The nucleus. While that isn't a very pretty word.....it has a beautiful meaning.
nucleus –noun, plural -cle⋅i - a central part about which other parts are grouped or gathered; core: Linda was the nucleus.
Linda still lives in California and has remained a loyal Christmas card sender all these years. I haven't seen her in person since she moved but she is still a good friend. She has that special place in my heart and memory. I have to admit I am jealous when I think about the people who get to live near her now. As I know she has done for them, what she did for me....for our group.
Linda and I are facebook friends and she reads my blog. Modern technology makes my brain hurt but I love that we can stay connected if even by this crazy cyber thread. One of the people I am jealous of is a good friend of Linda.....Suzy Bickers....who lives on the same street as Linda now. Suzy reads my blog, too. She sells the overly adorable jewelry known as Stella and Dot. As a thanks to Suzy for reading my blog, I would love for you to go visit her at www.stelladot.com/Suzy. You have my permission to buy yourself something pretty.
And Suzy....please walk down your street and give Linda a hug for me. And tell her I love her. Always will.