I have decided to write letters to the people who have shaped me into the person I am today. In the olden days I would mail these off using the post office. In today's world I post them on my blog.
Dear American Club Ladies,
It was over a decade ago that I first walked into that house on the tree lined street of Santiago. I was pregnant with my first, living overseas in a country where I did not speak the language and the only person I knew was my husband who worked long hours. I was not working for the first time in my life. I was alone and lonely and lost.
I was so scared of meeting you the first time, of walking into that room unsure of what was going to happen that I asked my husband to come with me. I had already found plenty of excuses to not show up during the open house hours the weeks before but I knew I couldn't keep going like this. And so one day, we walked into that house the one I can picture so clearly in my head right now. The library off to the left. The living room to my right was now filled with people mingling in small groups. Behind a table in the back sat a couple of women. I bravely approached them and introduced myself.
And that was all it took. Because once I took the step of showing up, oh how you took me under your wing. You invited me to join the stitching group and told me to come anyway when I said I didn't do needlepoint. And again when I showed up for what I found out was affectionately called Stitch and Bitch, you welcomed me with open arms. You kissed me on the cheek and introduced me to everyone who also kissed me on the cheek, a custom in Chile that I missed when I left but caught me off guard that first week.
You invited me to your home. You gave me advice on where to shop. You called to ask me to lunch. You took me shopping for fabrics and hooked me up with your curtain guy. You gave me restaurants to try and shared your life with me. You introduced me to other pregnant moms in the club and encouraged us to form a pregnancy support group.
Mostly though, you taught this woman who was so stuck on ages and life stages when I first got there, that I could have so much fun with women a little further along life's path than me. I laughed more at the stories you told over coffees and stitching than I maybe ever had. Oh my how you liked to have fun. I had spent so many years stressing about college and then getting my first job and getting married and then trying to get pregnant, that I had forgot how to have fun. I learned a lot listening to your stories, mostly I learned to stop stressing over the small stuff. Life was going to happen and I got to choose how I responded.
When I found out that we were being sent home sooner than expected, I was heartbroken. I had only been there a few months and yet the goodbyes were so incredibly hard, especially when you planned a special lunch for me and when the Stitch group threw me a surprise baby shower my last week there. I was so touched by how you embraced me, made me one of the tribe so quickly, and when I had to leave sent me off with such fanfare. You know how to make a girl feel special.
Thank you for showing me the value of cross generational friendships and for bringing such joy to the table.
I was blessed to have known each of you!