There's nothing sweeter than the ability of a two year old to make a friend.
We were at Cville Coffee to meet up with a friend of mine who had a son a month or so after Sam - Ezra is Sam's first little friend and playmate- I should say droolmate at this point -, and his mom and I took photos of the two of them together specifically so we can show them off when they are graduating from high school. (pics to come) Jo was very patiently playing by herself.
Then there were some kids Jo's age, so we hung out for a little while longer. One was this girl in ladybug boots. Soon it was just these two girls, suddenly playing together like they'd known each other forever -which is almost the truth. I heard the girl's name called, and looked at the mother - and realized after a while that I met this woman for the first time over four years ago, when I auditioned for a play she was directing - and then met her and her daughter at church when the girls were about 9 months old, but hadn't seen them since. What a surprise!
As the mom and I started chatting - about life, motherhood, work, identity - our girls played and played - laughing, giggling, scampering about. I've never seen Jo take to someone like this where the feeling was totally mutual - it actually gave me chills - and when we left, the new friend gave Jo a hug and wouldn't let her go! The mother literally had to untangle the two. She said her daughter never did this kind of thing, either. Obviously, we'd have to get together again.
I remember when I was about 9 years old deciding that when I grew up, I would always look people in the eyes; I would become an adult without losing myself; I would always stay real. I promised myself. But the road to 33 has been hard, and I'm not always real, I don't look strangers, even friends, in the eyes all the time.
I replay that embrace between Jo and her friend in my mind, and the simple, pure, fearless, uninhibited affection of that act both breaks and bolsters my heart.
Oh to open my arms to those I love, those I like, to those who need it, without fear of reprisal, judgment, rejection, aggression... Even if those things happen, just for that one moment of shared warmth, isn't it worth it?