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Orlando. It’s a beautiful place, filled with swaying palm trees, Mickey Mouse ears, and quaint coffee houses that serve spiced pecan lattes. It’s a great city to visit and a welcome refuge while a hurricane named Sandy bans me from returning home. So here I sit in my cousin’s gorgeous Spanish-style home, gazing out arched windows and letting the Florida sunshine warm my skin while I wait for a flight back to D.C.

I trekked down south for my cousin’s wedding, a vintage-country extravaganza of cuteness, family, fun, and dancing. We ate, we laughed, we ran around a field with sparklers in hand, squealing at the top of our lungs. And all was right with the world.

My cousin Kathy told me a tale about her daughters’ quest to experience a rite-of-passage fashion trend — bangs. The girls (and adorable wedding flower girls) often ask their mom to sweep their long hair over their foreheads and pin it in place, so they can look like Ariel. And who can blame them? Don’t we all wish our hair had the same voluminous body as that precocious mermaid? Alas, we don’t live in an underwater kingdom ruled by King Triton.

One day as Kathy was driving the girls around town, she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as she overheard their conversation in the backseat.

“You’re either born with bangs or you’re not,” said one sister to the other. “We weren’t born with bangs.”

Then they pointed at their little brother, a mop full of blondish brown curls.

“You see? He was born with bangs.”

I mean, can you even stand the cuteness of this story? Kids never cease to amaze me with their perspective, their thoughtful view of the world around them. I’ve retold this story many times already, laughing every single time. And, as usual, the words of curious children got me thinking again.

“You’re either born with bangs or you’re not.”

So matter of fact. So accepting. So understanding. It just is… or it isn’t.

And this weekend, as I soaked up the presence of family and friends, I smiled. And I thought to myself, when it comes to a great family, I’m born with it. All 21 aunts and uncles worth, all 35 first cousins worth (+ their spouses), all 15 (soon to be 18) second cousins worth. I’m blessed. And even as the little cousins began to pass around a stomach virus, throwing up in random places at inopportune times, I couldn’t help but still feel blessed.

But if the girls were right — that “you’re either born with it or you’re not” — then this full heart I have right now might be something that others will simply never have, something they will never be able to attain. And, frankly, I’m just not okay with that.

Because over the past few months in particular, I’ve seen the opposite happening on this very blog. Let’s be honest — there’s nothing particularly magical or special about this blog. It’s just a bucket of words woven together to tell the stories of a simple, inquisitive girl living life in the Capital City.

But there is something both magical and special about what happens as others take those words and weave them into something greater by adding their own strands of life and experience and wisdom. The conversations that have come out of this blog are beautiful. And they make it all worth it for me. The comments, the thoughts, the pieces of a greater puzzle that bring life into focus for all of us.

And the community? Well it’s our very own set of bangs for all of us to rock like Princess Ariel.

Because some of us aren’t born into loud, rambunctious Ukrainian / Russian families. Some of us aren’t surrounded by a slew of loving friends. Some of us aren’t married. Some of us aren’t parents. But we’ve somehow found each other right here in this place.

And with each post, each reaction, it’s like we take a pair of scissors and initiate another person into the family. We give ’em bangs. Yeah, when it comes to family, I was born with it. But when it comes to the greater community of believers, of brothers and sisters in Christ, that family is something I was gifted later in life.

I’m not going to be the one to break the news to my little cousins about how easy it is to get bangs. Really, it just takes a pair of scissors. Even plastic children’s scissors would probably work. But bangs or not, I am thankful for their innocent perspective. It taught me a lot this weekend.

Here’s hoping that the next flight out gets me safely back home. But whether I’m in Orlando or D.C., whether I’m with my actual family or not, I know I’ve helped build a little piece of home right here on this blog. And I hope you know you’re always welcome to find your home here as well.

~Ruth