There’s a poem by Charlotte Ansell that begins:
We have finally settled into love
Given up the struggle of our differences.
I thought often of those two lines this past week as I’ve sat across restaurant tables and coffeehouse tables and dinner tables from my closest friends. My two-week vacation left me voiceless and joyful to see all the folks who remain after 13-odd years.
We’ve left behind the roommate-induced squabbles of our younger years, the arguing over small inconsequentials and I-thought-you-meants—the sum of our togetherness far exceeding our differences. We’ve entered the inbetween territory of middle age where there are now husbands to befriend and small and beautiful replicas of my friends exist who call me auntie.
For over a decade these are the people who have helped me pack, carry and get rid of the baggage of life. Truth-tellers all, they’ve illuminated the way when the path was far too dark to make it on my own. No vows or rings have ever been exchanged, yet I am bound to them all the same.
This settled loves feels like mulled wine on a Germanwinter day and being invited in for a home-cooked meal of *insert favorite comfort food here* with ice cream cake for dessert. It’s a safe haven where forgiveness is plentiful. It is fireside chats and existential ponderings spoken aloud without hesitation or fear of laughter. It is a hot-water bottle between cold sheets and lightning bugs on memorable Summer nights.It’s reading your favorite book over and over again. It is a Mercy.
And it’s the one place that this traveler calls home.
If I could sing, I would serenade each one of you with this song: