Do you ever feel like you’re caught in a flood? A whirlpool of emotions and circumstance that seem to pulsate around you, whipping your hair in the currant and tugging at your thoughts like the pull of the tide? The flood can hit you at any time, overtaking you with waves of feelings from heartache to elation depending on the situation. You can sink or swim, or be thrown out to sea in the ensuing chaos that fills your heart. And the water doesn’t necessarily rise for rational things, though sometimes it does.
I’m feeling a little flooded right now. Likely a little edged by lack of sleep, but that’s beside the point. And I was up late for good reason. It started yesterday morning. I walked into one of the school buildings where I work and my ears were filled with the rumbling instrumentals and battle cry of the French Revolution. Les Miserables filled the hallway and I found myself recalling tales of the story and it’s impact on our lives with one of the teachers. I fell in love with Les Mis when I was 12. Two of my brothers introduced me to musicals and I latched on to Les Mis, and their copy of the original Broadway cast CDs. They finally realized they weren’t getting their music back so they bought me my own soundtrack and I would lock myself away in my bedroom, dreaming of being on stage and acting out the story line in my head. When I was 14 I was lucky enough to see the live production in Calgary when my best friend’s dad took the two of us. It was amazing. I still remember the dress I wore ( my 8th grade graduation dress, it was peach with lace around the collar) and we sat in Row M, smack dab in the middle of the floor seating. I remember my heart racing as the first trumpets sounded, and the tears flowing as Fontine sang her final lullaby to Cosette, and again so many times during the show. But the final song has always been my favorite. When Fontine and Eponine come to usher Jean Val Jean to his final reward and they belt out the line “To love another person is to see the face of God” brings me to by knees every time. When we were engaged and creating our wedding announcements I included that phrase on the top of the invitation. What more could you say about finding the love of your life than the fact that knowing so, and giving so openly and freely of yourself is seeing the beauty of the creator?
Last night my love for Les Mis deepened. I was hesitant to go see the film, certain that it wouldn’t meet or come anywhere near the expectations I hold after watching it in person, but my friend at work encouraged me to go. In addition to wanting to see the movie, just for my own obsession with Les Mis, I wanted to introduce it to my daughter as well. There are so many things that I want to show her and expose her to, that were or are important to me, and it can be so difficult to find that balance in which to do it in. In so many ways we are from a different culture, she and I, compounded by the fact that the first 8 years of her life consisted in my absence. I don’t know all of what she has seen, or what has influenced her, and it breaks my heart to think that in many ways I am so behind on her life history. I am so eager to share, but it may not be the first time she has been exposed to something, so I never know if she will love it with such abandon as I do. But I suppose that is the same for any child. You never know if they will take your loves and fly with them in their own lives. But last night, I think I caught her in my current. We went to see the film, just she and I, and while she is difficult to read, in that pre-teen way, I think she loved it! And me, well I was lost in the story, the music and the passion of the characters once again. To my excitement, we talked about it most of the way home (until she fell asleep in the front seat). It was so beautiful to be able to connect with her over something like that. My heart was flooded with joy.
Then when I finally got home (we live in the sticks, remember?) I was hit with another tidal wave, of a completely different nature. When I was 18, fresh out of high school and absent of any major life experiences I jumped on a jet for the first time and flew half way around the world to live and work at a college in Western Africa. I met so many amazing people while I was there, and had the opportunity to see and participate in things that I had never dreamed possible. In all of the friends I made, and the people I met there are two women who I built stronger connections with. We swam together in the Mediteranian, drank coconut milk fresh from the nut, shopped in the Grande Marche, were detained by soldiers, rode on mopeds and crammed into taxis. Both of them tried to improve my lacking French language skills, and taught me so much more in return. Over the years, and through traveling and moving, I had lost touch with them. About a year ago I had thought I may have found one of my lost friends on Facebook, and had messaged her to see if she was in fact the same girl I had once known. I didn’t receive a response back, and thought that it must not be her. Then last night, out of the blue, my phone sirened a new message as I stumbled through the door, laden with groceries and still on a high from the movie. My message, sent over a year ago, had just popped up in her inbox, and yes, this was my friend from days gone by! To make matters sweeter, she is also friends with the other young lady, and I quickly messaged her last night. When I awoke this morning, I had received a response back, and in short order, after 13 years, was reunited with two wonderful women from my past. I cannot express my joy in finding these girls again. Both taught me so much about faith, different cultures, and myself. And I have so many incredible memories tied to the adventures we had and the time we spent together. I am caught in a torrent of blessings.
So here I am, my life flooding with the beauty of these relationships, simultaneously new and old, each budding with possibility. And I am blessed beyond measure.