Monday, July 12, 2010

To Friends, Over the River

Some people, well-meaning as they may be, simply require a lot of energy to be around. These kinds of friends can be exciting, adventurous, or challenging in ways that make you better, but after a few hours can leave you drained and in need of a good, long nap. On the other side of the friend spectrum are those people who seem to pour energy and confidence into your heart, recharging your batteries and leaving you refreshed, able to take on the world.

My friend Susan is of the latter flavor.

She and I can spend hours together cooking, laughing, chatting about potential and Scotland and careers and love and frustration and black-tailed deer. With Susan, I stumble across the best ideas, the most revealing bits of my psyche, the funniest stories... Whenever I'm with her, I step a bit closer to the person I want to be, or, the way she'd likely put it, the person I really am.

This weekend I had the pleasure of spending time on her new plot of land in Sandy, Oregon, a stone's throw from the city but a world away in terms of country atmosphere, politics, and the ability to see a sky full of stars at night. Susan recently relocated from Southeast Portland to a few acres near the Sandy River (with a large house full of light and breezes and room for her horse to nibble on clover) after graduating from Reed, where we were in the same class though her birth certificate looks a great deal like my mother's. Age, however, has not separated us from becoming incredibly close. I like to think of Susan as myself in the future, still dancing through the same life quandaries but with the wisdom of gifts and scars well-earned. She's full of stories, both delightful and heart-wrenching, and she has a gift for starting over - a lesson we could all learn a bit better, and one of the reasons she's so lively and young. Susan is a poet of life, weaving life's colors, songs, and tastes together with the philosophies and lessons of less tangible invisible worlds. She is truly awe-some.

Between snacks of amazing cheese that I'd brought from Cheese Bar in Portland and a great dinner of homemade pad thai and gin and tonics watching the sun set, we spent some quality time with her 30-year-old horse, Sir, who is just about the sweetest living creature I've ever met. He's got the best plot of land, rich with clover and tasty grasses, a beautiful red barn and friends in the local elk and deer that come to graze with him at night. Susan and Sir likely have some secret stash of the elixir of youth, or have figured out how to photosynthesize their own cell-renewal from the sunlight. Goodness knows they have ample access to plenty of sun, with that country sky that somehow seems bigger and deeper than the light outside my downtown apartment.

It takes just a few hours away from the city to remember how much I need open sky, tall trees, and dirt to make me feel alive, and I'm so lucky that I have someone in my life who lets me drive up the gravel path to her country home whenever I'm in need of a strong drink, a stronger hug, a frolic in the grass, and a good story over a great meal.

Here's to finding the people that recharge our batteries.


  1. That was very beautiful. Tell me a childrens' story about that horse. This land sounds like the place we were looking for when you were little, though striking distance from the city.

  2. These pictures are so beautiful and inspiring!
    Great post:)

  3. oh i LOVE good times with friends like that :) sounds like a fabulous time! lovely photos of it all!