BATH, NH * MARCH 2014 * SONY NEX-7 * LIGHTROOM 5
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The truth is, our friendship started on Facebook. While I sometimes struggle to identify any redeeming qualities of Le Facehole as I make my way through a stream of narcissistic selfies (I don't mind the non-narcissistic ones), political pandering, and self-righteous cyber-violence, I can thank Facebook for this: the beginnings of my friendship with Linny.
We were connected through her fabulous sister, Cait. Some of Linny's leather work popped up in my feed and I was instantly drawn to her craftsmanship and her abundantly open soul and heart.
Neither of us is sure why or how, but around the same time that I was cyber-obsessing over her work, Linny friended me. Perhaps her cosmic receptors were feeling my draw to her and she just moved with the gut feeling on that one.
Linny was just starting her business and I decided to order a bag from her. We messaged back and forth about the design and before I knew it I found myself writing tearful emails to a person I had never met. I found such a comfort in her words and felt profound exchange and connection as she shared her life, loss, and pain, too.
You see, my father had died just one year prior. The design I envisioned for the bag - a tree on the front and two elephants on the back - emerged from my grief, sense of loss, and hope for healing. The tree was a symbol of strength, rootedness, and survival. Trees can withstand such turmoil but not without sacrifice. They bend in the wind. At times a limb is torn off in a vicious storm but still the tree will stand. Or perhaps it will be totally uprooted; this does not always mean death. Remnants of the tree may sprout new life. The elephants on the back - a parent and young calf - represented family bond, ancestry, and cultural memory. Not only that between my father and I, but for the future, for a growing family.
The bag she created perfectly captured all of this. Over the years she's made me cuffs, more bags, belts, and other treats. Each piece has deep significance for me and together they tell much of the story of my life of the past five years.
It would be two and a half years before Linny and I would meet in person and embrace for the first time. In that time we exchanged countless handwritten letters, emails, messages, and texts. We've likened ourselves to Julia Child and Avis DeVoto - the pen-pals exchanged letters for two years before meeting and when they did it was with the familiarity and comfort of childhood friends.
Since our first exchange in 2009, Linny and I have met up in person about six times. We've experienced more heartache and loss of all sorts. We've seen dark times, risen from ashes, grown flowers out of shit. Walked away from toxic presences and into new relationships within ourselves and with others - ones that nourish and strengthen. We've grown clearer in sense of purpose, direction, and meaning. Discovered what we find most delicious in life. We've learned a bunch of stuff, thought we had a handle on things, then realized it was shit, and started "from scratch" all over (no such thing). All of this at times in sync with each other and always in support of each other.
We've done all the life stuff and continue to do so, ever connected through visits and letters.
Linny lives in Bath, NH, where she and her boo, Nate, (and her dog Baloo, horse Sojourner, flock of chickens, and all the wild visitors) share the sweetness and challenges of country life. Seth and I got to visit them in March with the ground still covered in crunchy snow...my heart was so full it just about burst.
Sweet little guest room we slept in full of curious antiques and family treasures.
A homemade meal - Linny made us a delicious dinner: olive tapenade with toast, vibrant salad, mashed sweet potatoes, chicken cordon-bleu
Post-eating fire-side digestion, mornings by the fire, evenings by the fire, conversations by the fire, playing with the dogs by the fire, cuddling by the fire, coffee by the fire
In love with the morning light, afternoon light, early evening light
A morning visit to feed Sojourner
A beaut and her barn
As I now prepare for another move, this time back to my sweet love Harrisonburg, Virginia, my heart breaks again knowing the distance between Linny and I will make face-to-face visits a challenge. But we know already there's no stopping the comfort and joy we find in the shelter of each other.