We’re having a nostalgia filled beginning to the New Year. I have two stories of friendship to tell you readers, the first is today. I’ll be working on the second for next time.
On New Year’s Eve, our dear friends, and the couple who used to be our steadfast Friday night family date pulled up in front of the house. Tracey and I have known one another since I was nineteen and she was eighteen. I have an old photo of us from the spring that we met. If I remember correctly we stopped to pose while doing the electric slide, I’m wearing a short skirt, a cow girl hat, and a bandana around my neck and looking like I’m all knees and elbows. I have a huge goofy grin on my face. At the time I remember thinking that I was a sophisticated grown woman….dressed up for a western themed party.
At the time of the photo, neither of us had met our husbands, or had any idea that we would be anything more than casual friends. As they pulled up on New Year’s Eve in their minivan, my entire body smiled (so maybe the goofy grin part hasn’t changed). Chris, Tracey’s husband, got out first opening the van doors and started releasing the children from their carseats. Tracey came more slowly. Her beautiful round belly high and full under her cabled sweater and coat. Their two children scamper up to the door and are soon off in the depth of our house with the girls laughing and playing.
I hold Tracey in a long hug and gush about how beautiful she is. I remember back to the first time I saw her this pregnant. It was a little over five years ago. She and Chris had just moved to the Kansas City area, and thank goodness she was a bit persistent about getting together. I can get easily stressed about such things as making plans…I don’t really know why…It just feels like a lot of pressure to be social director. Gracie was a toddler, and Tracey and I were both around seven months pregnant, her with her first baby, and me with Ava.
Tracey and Chris were still trying to find a new care provider after moving to the area, and I had made a recommendation about a home birth midwife or two, and a birth center. Their decision loomed ahead. I could tell that Chris was nervous, and that he was a little suspicious of me. To be fair, I think I would have been suspicious of me too. This crazy home birth lady that my wife was wanting to hang out with, and her husband. I don’t remember much about that first night of hanging out as married couples. Except that I think Gracie may or may not have been naked for part of the evening (we were one part completely fine with toddler nudity, and one part powerless to stop it in front of company).
I’m almost certain that Gracie threw a gigantic tantrum about one thing or another. And, I think I made something for dinner that Chris considered to be weird.
Even with this inauspicious beginning, for the rest of our pregnancies, Tracey and I spent as much time as we could together. We walked. We hiked. We ate. We swam. Both of us got to the point of being way past our “due dates” and I remember the texts and calls of “So, are you still pregnant?….Me too.” This was probably one of the major things that solidified our friendship. You can’t be 9+ months pregnant together and not start to really love one another.
Then one morning I got a text that she had given birth to her beautiful baby boy, at home. Yes, they did decide on the home birth. At the time, I had a terrible cough and couldn’t go visit them. Finally I started feeling better and they came to visit one afternoon. Tracey always insists that holding her son is what finally pushed me into labor. She is probably right. The months passed and we just couldn’t get enough of Chris and Tracey. They came to our Muskil Gusha dinners on Thursday nights (a post for another day). We had game nights with them. Tracey and I joked that Ava and their son were twins from different parents born two weeks apart. That first year when the 2009 babies were still babies, we spent New Year’s Eve together.
Over the last five years between the two families, we’ve seen the birth of 3 more children, and one on the way. I’ve gained a God son and both Tommy and I have gained a God daughter. Every one of us has adults changed jobs, if not occupations. Chris and Tracey both finished new degrees…and they moved away from us. We don’t get to have our Friday night family dates anymore. At least not right now….But we do still have our New Year’s tradition. It’s an amazing thing, a living friendship. We never know where it will lead.
This year, they drove 3 hours to spend New Year’s Eve with us. Oh the nostalgia of looking on at 6 children (soon to be 7) when that first year we had 3 between the two families. Tracey is now a midwife herself, and delivered 22 babies this past year. I’m now a lactation consultant, and our husbands have built a strong bond. They even write snail mail letters to each other several times a year (to be fair, Tracey and I could do the same if only I were better at writing her back…sorry friend). On New Year’s day after a night where we laughed so hard that our sides hurt and the mirth streamed down our faces, I held Tracey tight saying bye again for now.
I have no idea what this year will bring, but I hope I know who we will be spending the last night of it with. Wishing you laughter, joy, friendship, and an auspicious New Year.