We huddled on the metal steps near the top of the stands, tucked between the marching band on our left and whooping spectators on our right. There were no seats left in our small stadium - it was Homecoming in a winning season of high school football in Texas.
But we were oblivious to the game being played on the field, or even those around us who might be able to hear our voices over the cheering fans and the clanging cymbals. She was pouring her heart out to me; I was doing what she needed me to do...listening.
Although she was one of the first friends I made when I moved here thirteen years ago, and quickly became one of my best...one of those who becomes like a sister, one you click with again no matter how much time has passed...I hardly ever see her anymore. As our children got older, our lives went in different directions.
She was a volunteer way beyond my league. She didn't do all she did for praise or prestige, but out of love for her family and friends, for her belief in the organizations she was helping, and the knowledge that she had gifts to use.
Then one day in her forties, like so many others, she woke up and realized she still had dreams and goals, and she started working to fulfill them. Unfortunately, she is having to do it without the support and encouragement she craves. It breaks her heart, especially after the sacrifices she made.
I'm lucky Tom at least tries to be supportive - I understand he can't help worrying about the financial strain we're under with me only working part-time so I can write and take my college classes. I worry, too, and so I try to be practical and patient, but I feel this URGENCY that tells me not to let go, not to set my dreams completely aside again. It's been hard to explain to him, but he's starting to understand it...I think probably because he feels a similar urgency about things in his life.
I wonder if that urgency is what a mid-life crisis is all about? So many of my friends are feeling it right now (although not all of them, and it's hard to explain it to those that aren't.) Has it always been this way for people going through their forties? Why isn't it talked about more - in a positive light rather than a negative one?
One friend refuses to call it a crisis, but instead says it's a re-birth...an awakening. I like that. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. But problems arise when those around you don't understand the changes you're trying to make in your life, don't support them, don't try to see how important they are to you or expect you to stay the same, keep making compromise after compromise. Change sometimes scares people, makes them nervous and defensive, forces them to come out of their comfort zones.
I'm lucky and I know it. My heart goes out to my friend. I pray some luck goes her way, too. Soon.