Picture this: I’m visiting a friend whom I haven’t seen in years.
We’ve been able to stay in touch on the phone and by email. I’m traveling through her hometown and we meet for lunch. We hug, squeal, exchange “oh you look so good” comments, and then order our lunch. As we eat, we catch up on our kids and lives.
After the first frenzy of conversation, she’s less chatty. She doesn’t answer my questions very quickly. She seems so distracted. Our conversation loses its rhythm.
Then she says something about someone she’s following on Twitter, and I think, “Where in the world did that come from? I don’t even know who she’s talking about.”
I ran away from home last week. My friends, Paula and Joan, ran away with me.
We rented a pontoon boat and loaded it down with snacks, sunscreen, books, towels, water, and ice.
We barely pulled away from the dock before we plopped our tired selves on those hot, clammy cushions.
Please come to my house and hang out with me. I won’t clean it up for you. When you walk across my kitchen floor, your shoes may stick to the tiles every now and then. You will have to move shoes from in front of the couch when you sit down. There may be a hoodie or pair of socks in some random place that only you will locate because the rest of us who live here have not been able to find them for years.
Please come to my house and have lunch with me. I won’t make you the lovely chicken salad with walnuts and cranberries that would impress you. I won’t bake homemade bread for us to enjoy. Rather, we will probably munch on Saltines, String Cheese and sliced apples. You can sit at my kitchen table with me and scrape off the remains of breakfast before you place your paper plate on the streaked glass surface. If you spill some tea on your seat as we eat, don’t worry. The cushions are already stained. I won’t steam clean them before you arrive.
There were 11 girls. They all sat on couches in the small room around me. This was not their home … but it was where they lived.
My friend Carolyn and I were visiting a girl’s shelter. As I shared pizza with the girls, I listened to their stories, and then talked with them. Each young lady sat there with me because her home is not safe. These girls have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment. This was a safe place to stay in the meantime, waiting to go home again.
Britney said it, Taylor said it, Connie and Shalonda said it too. They each spoke of it – home. Every girl seemed to hold on to the hope that she would one day go back.