About a month and a half ago, I received a note from a friendly acquaintance. When my daughter left her Japanese preschool, this young woman tutored her for awhile to maintain her language skills. She and her family were looking for a place to stay in Chicago and all hotels were booked (Avon walk weekend). It was urgent. She had to be out of her current place that day. I invited her to come stay with me, of course. It began as a temporary stop until the hotels freed up. We, my whole family, fell in love with them and begged them to stay on. It's beautiful how a friendship forms and grows exponentially when you open yourself up for it.
In the time that she, her husband and her gorgeous 9-month-old girl have stayed with us, I've accomplished more practical things in my home than in the two years I've lived here. My guestroom that has functioned as garage storage (because we have no storage space like that) has been cleaned out. Items have been given away, donated or packed neatly in a newly created, neat storage corner (complete with a beautiful screen from Anthropologie). I ordered a bed, rug, side tables and a comfy chair to create a bedroom worthy of a hotel. Except for the lack of art work, it's probably the most furnished room in my home.
My friend and her husband cook up a storm. Fresh, organic and super healthy meals have graced my dining room each evening. Not necessarily raw, the food we've had has sure pleased my family. For them, I purchased a grill. Each night, my husband will spend at least an hour and often more sitting around the table talking politics and business. In normal times, he wolfs his food down and leaves the dinner table within minutes. Instead of feeling bitter or jealous, I enjoy his extended company. I am happy he has someone to banter with on the subjects that would otherwise make my head spin. It's the curse of marrying a CalTech grad. Typically I can't keep up.
We watch the Navy Pier fireworks together, every Wednesday and Saturday. Normally we'd ignore them, but with friends it's something to look forward to. When the kids are finally in bed (summer hours, whew, will they ever sleep?), we squish together on my tiny couch to watch recorded episodes of True Blood and Spartacus (blood and boobs - necessary for the guys to embrace a series). I watch the love my friends have for each other and something is kindled in my own marriage. More kissing, more cuddling, more kindnesses, more forgiveness.
I think back to the moment I responded to that message on Facebook, "Stay with us." I was nervous. I hadn't checked in with my husband. I didn't know what her husband was like. I hadn't seen her for years. Would it be okay? Sometimes all it takes is a tiny leap of faith for something amazing to happen.