“Please, come to our town and I’ll show you guys our oak grove. Some of the acorns are fist-sized and look like sea anemones.”
Two years ago, the above comment appears on my blog post about acorn necklaces. My kids and I accept the invitation and journey to meet Maya of Urban Organica, who lives just forty miles away from us, and coincidentally, a short drive from my parent’s house. How can I miss an opportunity to meet a fellow blogger and collect enormous acorns? We have no idea what to expect, but after a successful blogging friend meet-up several months earlier (a camping trip with Sarah of Urban.Prairie.Forest and her three gorgeous daughters,) we are optimistic. Our first day with Maya and her three boys is a success, and we come home with baskets full of acorns that look like anemones and plans to meet again soon.
We meet again, and again, and again. At their house, our house, and a few places in between. We share numerous meals, craft projects, bike rides, festivals, field trips, lengthy phone calls, and extended email chats. Our children play and share, bicker and make up. During our most recent visit, her youngest asks for more marshmallows for his hot cocoa, and my youngest plucks a few soggy marshmallows from his own cocoa and offers them in response.
My kids ask, “Remember that time we put on a play in Maya’s living room?” Maya’s son asks me, “Remember that time you made coconut crepes with chocolate sauce?” My daughter asks, “Remember that time Maya made homemade Nutella?” My daughter dreams of living in a house just like Maya’s when she grows up.
Maya hangs the jute and twine crocheted granny square I make for her on the wall with their family pictures. I open my dresser drawer and pull out an organic cotton tee Maya refashioned for me. I tie her son’s shoes and buckle his bike helmet before we set out for a ride. She gives my daughter a pair of baggy khaki pants, a hand-me-down for which I’m eternally grateful, as the pants convince my daughter to wear something besides skinny jeans.
I clean out a pot in Maya’s sink, fill it with butternut squash soup I’ve brought from home, and heat it up on her stove. Maya stands at my kitchen island chopping onions, carrots, kale, garlic, and ginger for friendship soup, which we eat while our kids take silly pictures and videos on my laptop. We sit in her breakfast nook, drinking sparkling water with lemons, taking bites of chimichurri egg salad between sentences, and I ask her to expound on one of her posts. She shares with me a discussion she had with her husband about a post I wrote about my husband. I ask myself over and over a question she told me her husband once asked her: “What’s using you up?”
My friendship with Maya never uses me up. She fills me up to the brim each time we connect. Just the thought of her, her home, her family, buoys my spirit. We have so much in common, but what I enjoy most about our friendship is our differences. Where I skimp, she applies lavishly. Where I doubt, she believes. Where I abandon convention, she creates structure. Where I see trees, she grasps the entire forest. Our interaction is a dance set to the music of our squealing children. As partners facing each other, we move in opposite directions, our motion creating the balanced rhythm of friendship.
And to think it all started with a post about an acorn, an invitation in a comment box, a chance taken by two women who believed an online encounter could become a real life connection. I have no doubt our husbands appreciate our connection as well, for finally Maya and I have someone who understands the nuances of blogging, the joys and perils of sharing our lives online, and can talk about it for hours and hours. And hours. I wonder how they’ll feel about our plans to leave them at home with the kids while we travel back east to attend the Squam Art Workshop? If that plan doesn’t fly, there’s always our back up plan: to borrow an RV, load up our laptops, cameras, and children, drive across country, and meet up with fellow bloggers along the way. Shall we add you to our itinerary?
Visit a blog, leave a comment, extend an invitation, take a chance, and don’t be surprised if you find the cap to your acorn, the bloom to your stem, the leaf to your branch – a friendship that enriches your life and creates memories for your entire family. It’s really that simple.
Molly Dunham lives in the foothills of Northern California with her home-brewing husband, two unschooled children, and five egg-laying chickens. She blogs at A Foothill Home Companion.