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Marraines,Titas and their Pea Parties

June 28, 2012

Recently, my friend Karina and her girls, ages 2 and 4 (plus some…), came to spend a week with us on the farm. Friend is probably not accurate—surely, you have friends like this, where you have given such a deep part of your life to them, lived it with them, been broken to little shards of yourself with them and enjoyed their witness of you being sewn and knit back together. And surely there has to be another word for these people in our lives, a word that hurdles the world of blood relative and soul relative. Those who become your family elect, who are never invited because they simply come, because they are. We have a friendship like that, a group of us women who have been friends for more than 10 years now, who have born witness to each other’s loves, the cuts and scars of our past, the brilliant, indistinguishable shining of the road before us, that we marched on down together. The “normal” paths of life have put us on different roads, in different cities and even countries. But we were never normal anyway. And we continue to live as if we live on the same road, just a little further down. Well, now that most all of us have children, we are witnessing the next layer in this fabric of friendship: our little ones. We become their elders, their aunties … that word takes on a very special tone that goes far beyond its familial inference. When each of us say it, “this is your auntie Karina, your auntie Harrigan, your auntie Carly, your auntie Katie your auntie your auntie your auntie your auntie…she lives in Hawaii and England and Ohio and Brooklyn and Virginia and California and Harlem and and and….. when each of us says that precious word, we realize that what we offer to our little ones is a village, a life-network that consists of the woven fabrics of young women who grew up together, who shed the blood of their dreams and desires and decisions together. Arguably, at times this has been a blessing and a curse to those around us, to our spouses and significant others, to our new boyfriends and old ones. When you get one, you get many. (Jason was already prepared for this, I would argue, since when he got me, he also inherited Jewells, as how can sisters who shared a twin bed and a life and shoes and a dream and a loss not be knit into one soul? And this, he accepted, generously, lovingly, excitedly even for a sister he never had. However, I’m not sure how prepared he was to receive so many other women in his life! I must say that he has not only embraced it, but I would say that he loves these women as fondly as I do. And of course, now, he is Uncle Jason.).

How we have grown, when our friendships are now measured in the lives of our children, in their first crying breath, in the tears we all shed over their conceptions and the losses of the ones along the way; measured in their ideas, their questions, their first words, their hilarious antics… Even for those of us who do not yet have children, we join in this joy and wonder at its impact on us. We are Aunties. Maybe we should invent a new word. Or use one from another culture. Maybe we should borrow from our Filipino friends and say Tita? Or maybe a broader “godmother” term is better…shall we borrow from the French and say Marraine?

Regardless of what we shall say, we shall say that it is good to have a village to turn to in life, with children or without, in marriage or not. Friendship is immeasurable, so full of breath that when your oxygen is thin, another always has some to share. Thank God for creating us designed for such relationship.

While Karina and her girls Kaela and Lina were here, I was overwhelmed with just how much they made me smile. One of my favorite moments in particular was when the three of us had an impromptu “Pea Party” while mamma was upstairs packing. What, you ask, is a “Pea Party?” Well, a party on a blanket under the open skies where you shuck fresh peas, of course! The name comes compliments of Kaela. That little one will always surprise you with her inquiring mind. And it was during this pea party,… excuse me, Pea Party  (it was quite regal and should always be capitalized)…it was during this Pea Party that I relished in the girls’ relationship with one another and the world. We had spent a week together, eating, playing, feeding chickens, collecting eggs, walking with Wile, visiting Uncle Jason on his big combine in the field, visiting gardens and lavender fields and the river, drawing, making Uncle Jason play dough cupcakes and stacking them in the cupboard, reading, collecting stones, thrifting (of course! Their auntie has much to teach them…), and enjoying the open spaces. After a week of these things, we were exhausted. So we pulled out a sheet, spread it in the grass (mostly to cover any chicken pooh…although they are lovely creatures which add a kind of sentiment to your yard that is unlike that of any other, one must never only romanticize them. They do pooh. A lot.)

We then pulled over buckets of fresh peas from Janet’s garden. Kaela, of course, meticulously had her game plan. Shuck each one carefully and pop it into the clean, turquoise bowl, and put the shell in the bucket for the chickens. There was precision, focus, articulated movements of popping open the pod and lovingly ejecting the peas into the bowl. Lina on the other hand, had her own plan, her own ideas about enjoying the perfect Pea Party. Her idea was more along the lines of eat as many peas as possible even before they come out of the pod. Even if you didn’t shuck them yourself. No, drink them. Drink them right up (you will see this impossibility illustrated below. Nothing is impossible to a child). As the breeze blew over us, as I smelled the sweetness of their skin and as I gazed quietly at the clouds above, I relished in their utter joy of shucking peas together. They too are like their Mama and Aunties. They too love a life lived in community. And they do it so well, as it has been modeled to them.

The Pea Party also included a couple of off-the-cuff songs written, produced and performed by Kaela, and some beautifully exhausted sighs from Lina as she would realize she had eaten more than there were shucked in front of her. These sounds were accompanied by a chorus of clucking chickens, the occasional cow call in the field, and Wile’s intermittent groans of contentedness as he lovingly rolled in the grass next to his newest pack members. A Pea Party. I shall have them more often.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2012 12:47 pm

    Oh Harrigan, this post made me cry! I am so grateful for you, my daughters’ godmother and auntie, for all the ways you have been present to us, for your creativity and reflectiveness, your spirit and your compassion. We had the best time in Virginia and cannot wait to see you again. Love you, dear sister!

  2. June 28, 2012 5:30 pm

    Harrigan, you make me hunger for the friendships you describe. I have one friend in this world that has been by my side through thick and thin for 35 years and I can’t imagine life without her. But to have multiple friends with that history would be amazing. Having been your friend for only 4 months, I can say with certainty that I look forward to our friendship growing and blossoming into an amazing lifelong bond. You have already been an amazing friend to me and so accepting of me and all my scars. I love you and the world you have created for yourself to live in.
    XX
    Debbie

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