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Mirror image.

Yesterday, I hung out with my friend, Brandi, and her little two and a half year-old daughter, Ayva. As we were making plans, it seemed totally natural for me to go to their home to hang out even though, really, Brandi and I almost never chill in person. In fact, the last time we saw each other was this past June or July.  I met Brandi during my part-time AmeriCorps term of service back in 2010 at non-profit youth education organization which specializes in out-of-school time programming. I liked Brandi right away since it was clear to me that she was a) hyper smart b) believed in her work and c) was her own person. (Also, I thought she had really good style.)  Through conversations here and there, we ended up connecting. When I left that job, I had it in my head that I wanted to stay in touch with Brandi. Friendships exists in all forms, and since I finished my AmeriCorps position, my main form of communication with Brandi has been through our respective blogs. So even though we don’t see each other in real life, I still feel like I know what going on with her through her writing and our own little written exchanges.

When I arrived at Brandi’s home, I felt comfortable right away. She was cooking us dinner, so the house was warm and smelled great. Brandi had me sit down while she and Ayva made cornbread. Watching the two of them interact was so relaxing to me. They were such an awesome, adorable team–calm and encouraging, and no fussing when it came time for clean-up. I hadn’t seen Ayva since she was probably less than a year old so I was floored by what a person she’d become. I remember when she could do little more than wave and smile and here she was, laughing, talking, singing. I couldn’t believe how much she’d grown since the last time I saw her.

It’s funny, but in a way I feel as though I got to know Brandi better through those few hours I spent at her home through Ayva. During our visit, Brandi to take a phone call, so Ayva and I hung out just the two of us for a little bit. Since I don’t spend that much time with kids, I wasn’t sure if I could sufficiently entertain her. However, once Ayva very comfortably rested her little elbow on my knee as she began talking about the show we were going to perform, I felt at ease with this little person since she felt so at ease with me. I could see a lot Brandi reflected in Ayva, like the hyper smart aspect and her totally being her own person. For a two and a half year-old, Ayva is pretty self-sufficient and also has some very solid opinions. And like her mama, she’s extremely expressive and  imaginative. For a moment, it felt a little surreal for me to be lounging on a couch, engaged in a weighty debate with a toddler over whether or not apples are a fruit, but I was really having the time of my life. It was fascinating to me to see how Ayva embodies so much of Brandi while she instructed me (gently) and reassured me during our play. It was a lot like way Brandi was talking with Ayva while they made cornbread. And for me personally, I’m always surprised by how much I’ll let a little kid tell me what do. I think under Ayva’s supervision, I drew no less than 30 butterflies.

I don’t know anything about motherhood. I don’t even know that much about being an adult. I do know that both seem impossibly hard. What I saw through Brandi and Ayva, though, is that an amazing, caring person can have an amazing, caring family. Brandi has inspired me since I met her. Yesterday she once again instilled a little bit of hope in me, showing me that some of the hardest parts of life can result in some of the best outcomes.

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