Friday, November 2, 2012

Putting the Pieces in Place

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about how life is like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  Right around the time of that post, I had a few things happen that reaffirmed for me that I am exactly where I need to be, things that made me realize, "These pieces are falling into place perfectly."

First, I have two great friends in Austin, Kristen and Heather, who I would not have met if not for Brian's passing and, more specifically, this blog.  I met Kristen first, almost immediately after moving to Austin in 2010.  We connected through mutual friends on Facebook when I stumbled upon the realization that we had some mututal friends in common (she went to school with Brian's cousin and had met his two best friends from Iowa years before in Las Vegas).  On a whim, I sent her a friend request and a message introducing myself.  She didn't get the message (sometimes, I've learned, Facebook messages sent along with friend requests disappear if the request is accepted before the message is read).  Still, she looked at my page and saw a link to this blog and was intrigued by me and my situation, and the fact that we had three seemingly random friends in common.  We met for "happy hour"....which lasted about 4 hours, during which time we laughed our asses off, cried, shared secrets, and really bonded.  She was such a part of my integration into Austin, and she is now one of my best friends in the world.

About a year later, I met Heather.  She had just moved to Austin from New York after going through a heartbreaking divorce.  Like me, she was seeking refuge and a place to heal and put her life back together.  Funny how well Austin fits the bill.  (Don't tell your friends -- or maybe do...I need to keep the rental market hot to make the condo a good investment.)  Heather had started reading my blog on the recommendation of her sister, who felt she might be able to relate to someone trying to put the pieces of her life back together.  Eventually, she added me as a friend on Facebook.  The first time we met in person was when I interviewed her for a book I'm working on about Austin immigrants from all over the U.S.  We met at a wine bar downtown, me with my tape recorder, and started the interview over a couple glasses of wine.  A couple hours and several glasses later, I turned the recorder off and the interview became a heart-to-heart conversation amongst friends.  Like my first "face time" with Kristen, we bonded immediately and strongly over tears, laughter, stories, and alcohol.  It didn't seem possible to have that kind of connection and conversation with someone who, only hours before, had been a total stranger.

Four or five months later, I was having friends over at my condo in Austin, having just gotten it furnished and ready for renting.  There, Kristen and Heather met each other for the first time.  Now, they have hit it off and are close friends.  Recently, there was one night that they were together in Austin (while I was in San Antonio) that really cemented the feeling of "wow....this was all meant to be."

Kristen has had a rough go of things, relationship-wise, this year.  She met someone in March and felt an instant and deep connection.  She felt things she's never felt before, and he said he did too.  The problem?  He lived in Arizona and was just visiting Austin.  Still, they stayed in constant touch and some visits were made.  Then, the opportunity came up for her to spend the summer in Arizona.  He had lined up job prospects for her, she found a place to stay, and he was urging her strongly to give it a chance.  She went for it, following her heart west.  Their relationship was making them both happier than they'd ever been.  He declared his love for her and told her he had no idea he could be this happy with someone.  She became close to his friends and family, including his sister and his school-aged son.  In July, the two flew back to Austin to celebrate her birthday, and he met all of her friends and family.  It was clear that she was happy, glowing -- she looked and acted differently than I had ever seen her, and it made me happy to see that.  Then, they went back to Arizona and everything changed.  Abruptly, he decided everything they'd been doing was "a fantasy" and that he needed to get back to "real life."  He left her to go back to his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his child.  He and his ex had been on-again, off-again for years, and he decided he wanted to be "on again" with her for the sake of his son.  Not only that, but he had decided to stop the "on-again, off-again" cycle with his ex-girlfriend for good, and proposed to her.  She accepted the proposal, even though he had been travelling across the country to meet his girlfriend's family just a week before.  Naturally, Kristen was devastated.  She stuck it out in Arizona until she could tie up her loose ends and make it back to Austin, heartbroken and with her tail between her legs.

Making things more difficult, this man's family members continued to call Kristen, telling her they were shocked and that this "couldn't be the end" for them -- they loved her, they saw how happy he was with her, and they couldn't understand why he was doing what he was doing.  This made it incredibly hard for her to let go of him and the idea of them being together.  Even his best friend called her to say these things.  Adding insult to injury, the wedding was scheduled for the next month.  Kristen was still heartbroken when he was making his vows to another woman. 

The weekend of his wedding, there was a torrential downpour in central Texas.  I sent Kristen a text message saying, "Thinking of you this weekend.  Hope the rain this weekend feels refreshing and cleansing to your soul." 

Her response?  "I am with Heather right now, and she said the exact same thing!"  Eerie.  It felt like Heather was my proxy to support Kristen in her time of need as she had supported me.  She was literally giving Kristen the same words of encouragement as me.  I wrote back that Heather was very wise, and sent my love to them both.  That night, I went to bed feeling that so much was right with the world.

I honestly feel I am a kindred spirit with these girls, and so happy that they have become friends.  It is interesting that, although our situations were all very different, we all faced loss and heartache in sequence.  First me, then Heather, then Kristen.  Somehow, we all found one another and have been able to lean on one another for support....both emotionally and, sometimes after too much wine, in a literal and physical manner.  Joking aside, I do feel this connection between us all is a sure sign that things work out the way they do for a reason and I feel blessed to have shared my life's journey with these women.


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