The Heart Has Many Chambers

When we gave everything away or sold it at cost and moved to a brand-new country where we didn’t know a soul. Everywhere we went, everything we did, was so completely different – from banking to making a call via a phone booth in the 1980s. We watched our money dwindle like quicksilver in our hot palms. We had no safety net, no return ticket. We had no choice but to stumble forward and chase after the American Dream.

As homesickness crippled me six days out of seven, I mourned those I loved so far away as if they had been obliterated from this earth. My best friends Kitty and Lanie and my beloved mom would write, and three weeks later I would get news from home. I worried about things that were long resolved, but I had no way of knowing – expensive phone calls were a luxury reserved for birthdays and Christmas.  To ease my pain, I wrote two letters to each of them twice every week and when times were really hard, I cashed in collected cans and bottles for stamps to ensure letters made it “home.”

That was part of the problem. I didn’t know where “home” was. My heart was sore for ten whole years. I cried without warning. I cried about missing out on the big things, but it was the little things I missed that really made me feel lonely.

I had no desire for new friends.  Why would I? My two best friends were there for me. Time and distance of eleven thousand miles were never an issue. They were there for me when I needed them and vice versa. I trusted them with all my heart – still do.

And then I went into real estate. For all the warnings of backstabbing in that industry, I was well prepared. But I wasn’t prepared to find lasting friendship amongst women who embraced my differences. Within a short few months, I reluctantly let my Virginia Girls into the chambers of my heart. They all brought something new and precious into my life. They’ve been as much part of my growth as a writer as anyone and have all read countless version of my scripts and books, offered constructive criticism, given ideas, and even joined me at pitch fests. Each year for a week we converge and celebrate our differences. We laugh a whole lot, eat chocolate and drink wine. This year will mark our 20th.  

The moral of this story is our hearts are big enough to love many friends for many reasons. I never loved my best friends less over the years. Nay, I love them more. And each time I talk to them or see them it’s as if we have never been apart for a minute, let alone half a lifetime.

My VA Virginia Girls taught me once I opened my heart, I have more than enough room to love others. Because of them, I am richer and rounder. Hmm, I wonder if the latter is because of the chocolate – or figuratively – because of the many wonderful, diverse people I call “Friends.”

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