The Company We Keep
After a little juggling of our weekend schedule, David called him back and said, "COME ON." So Benji, Brandie and their little boy left their house around 7 last night and got to our house about 1 o'clock this morning. They're staying until Sunday. And we are tickled to death.
We are so happy to have them here, mainly because they're some of our favorite people in the whole wide world. They're the kind of friends who require no extensive cleaning-up, no putting on of make-up or "real" clothes until long after breakfast, no planning, no organizing, no adjusting.
But being with them does require talking, laughing, guffawing, kidding, needling, and XBox playing. And now that Alex is old enough to really play with P. - who refers to A. as "my cousin" - being together requires watching our boys have big fun together. So all in all, time with their family is just EASY. Laid-back. Fun.
You know, when I was younger and pictured my life in my 30's, I thought that I'd be a person who did lots of "entertaining." I thought I'd have dinner parties and use all my fine china on at least a weekly basis. I thought I'd invite over an eclectic cross-section of people to sample a creative array of appetizers. I pictured that I'd be able to chat with my guests about a wide range of topics, from theatre to photography to literature. That I'd know the difference between a pinot noir and a cabernet and a merlot. And that I'd care about those things.
But what I've realized, after marriage, and a kid, and a few years of being 30-something, is that while all that stuff is okay, and while for some folks it has its place, those things just aren't meaningful to me. I can't do life without genuine community and fellowship with other people. And the older I get, the more I want some substance behind the conversations, some intention behind the relationships, and some REAL beneath the surface.
I'm grateful that this weekend, without a doubt, will be the real deal: cooking out on the grill, chasing kids in the backyard, cleaning up the kitchen, watching some HGTV, laughing until our sides hurt, listening to each other's stories, promising we'll never tell some of them, staying up way too late for our own good, worshipping together on Sunday morning, and vowing - when it's time for them to go home - that it won't be so long before we get together again.
So I'm about to shut down the computer and hang out with our friends. I'll cook dinner and "entertain" them - just as I imagined doing so many years ago - but we'll be using the everyday dishes for the grown-ups and the Exclusive Elmo Collection (Plastic Edition) plates for the kids. And yes, we'll have appetizers - a little sliced cheese, a few potato chips, some "party dip" that comes in a tub from the grocery store. Fancy. :-) And we'll cover a wide array of topics, all right: faith, marriage, parenting, TiVo, movies, and more. And though I still don't know a thing about wine, I'll be able to speak with authority on the differences between diet Coke, diet Pepsi and diet Dr. Pepper.
And I DO care. Deeply.
Because conversation trumps small talk. Because substance trumps flash. And because real life trumps dream world.
Every single time.