Years ago I met a woman who enchanted me. She was witty and funny and cute to boot with a generosity that just kept giving. By chance, we ended up working together for a week or so and I hoped with fingers crossed that she would want to be my friend. In that week, we shared stories and stared down one another’s life situations, advising one other to the best of our abilities. In one such moment of advice, she regaled to me a statement that had been offered unto her:
“A person can come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sometimes all three.”
Although she had given me this bit of advice in regards to a particular situation, it started to seep into and throughout my understandings of my surroundings. Suddenly, the challenging or the random had a purpose: reason. The people I’d once fallen so quickly in with and faded away from just as quickly too had their purpose: season and the people I knew I’d always know were my lifetimers.
I sent a little wish skyward that this woman wouldn’t be just this lesson, not just a reason.
Five years later, we are still dear friends.
She is the one I went to when my relationship fell apart and I needed somewhere to feel loved and recoup. She fed me soup and drew me baths and encouraged me to go. Travel was the best medicine, we decided and so off I went: first stop Alaska, next stop Thailand.
Thailand, as we know, never came.
Yet Ecuador did.
Now, more than ever, amongst only new, I again hear her words: a reason, a season or a lifetime. Or all three.
We arrived at our home away from home three weeks ago. From the moment I saw it on the website, I knew we would be staying there, and although it was lovely, I couldn’t have told you why exactly we had to stay there, we just did. The night we came in it was nearing 11pm. We’d been on bus after bus, hour after nauseous hour (apparently I get bus sick nowadays. Who knew?!) and finally, we had arrived. Almost. After almost 12 hours of travel, we had one last push. We panted through the mile plus long walk, walking hopefully in the right direction, with our backpacks filled to the brim and when we arrived we were greeted by the whole family. They graciously settled us into our room, turned on the fan full blast to bite away at the layer of heat that had taken residence in our room and bid us goodnight.
The next morning, as we were sitting out on the terrace having our coffee and tea, we started to meet our fellow travelers, four lovely gentlemen: The Bachelors. Within ten minutes we had lunch plans, a date for that evening, yoga plans for early the following morning to be succeeded by a lesson in Ecuadorian grocery shopping and trivia plans in the night.
We had arrived.
The place swept us up and into a family of ever-changing characters.
At first, we were the youngest members, the kids of the group and the only present couple (and I the only visiting female). Then we suddenly had younger siblings in the form of four young Welsh travelers with whom we became fast friends (and the gender divide lessened).
And then the first goodbyes.
After just a few short fun-filled days full of stray dogs guarding us on walks home and dinners in and drinks out, the Welsh were gone.
The first goodbye of many while The Core group remained: the bachelors (my used to be bachelor) and I.
We grew a little closer.
We took day trips together.
We swept the local trivia circuit.
We grew closer again.
Then came the next set of siblings with whom we too bonded quickly. Everything was halvsies. We shared everything from dinners to surfboards to after sun aloe (with Lidocaine, no doubt). They extended their stay, as we’ve learned most people do when they get here, but then they too arrived at the day when they had to depart.
That goodbye broke the dam and suddenly the goodbyes started flooding in. Arrivals and departures sped as Carnival approached but still, The Core group remained.
Again, siblings arrived in the form of a couple from the UK. They too took a liking to all things Canoa: surfing, trivia, pre-mixed coconuts and again the family expanded. We weathered the wild of Carnival together and watched the sleepy town swell by thousands into an all the time nightclub we peeked in on. And then, just like that, it was gone.
We said goodbye to the festival and just as soon as we had, it was time to bid the UK couple adieu as well.
The family was shrinking again.
Ebb and flow.
And then, the first of The Core left, one of our constants, one of the people I had bonded with most closely, like a Dad and best friend wrapped up into one kind face from Colorado.
The Core was moving on.
Suddenly, every day seemed to be someone’s last day and so there stirred in me a sort of uneasy swirling of unsteady ground. I wanted every moment to be their best and at the same time, I wanted things to just be normal. Our Lou used to get nervous whenever she would see someone packing and then would either disappear or try to jump in the truck. Either be left behind by her own accord or decide she was coming with you, either way, it had to be her decision. I can sympathize with that. All the change made me uneasy. I wanted to either jump ship as well or pretend it wasn’t happening.
I’ve never been swift to flow with change.
And so, of course, change came again.
Another of The Core had his last day. We spent it together and we spent it well. We ventured together to a nature preserve, filled with mangroves and more species of birds than I could count.
It was a beautiful day but the tinge of another Last Day again stirred the pot.
Yesterday morning, he left. Another Father-like friend who knew how to simply be. Be in the moment. Be present. Be content.
As The Chief and I ate our granola post-goodbye, who should come around the corner but our first friend here, our Southern hospitality in a far more Southern place.
Suddenly, strangely, we had come full circle. Those who had left had returned and those who had been here had gone.
Later that night, two more travelers arrived to grace our doorsteps: again, another who had been here right as we arrived and then, a newbie. The cycle continued. The family again was in flux but the circular fashion in which it flowed made me smile. It was a family anew.
A family that keeps me going back to what my dear friend said: a reason, a season or a lifetime. Or all three.
It’s too soon to know how everyone will fall into one another’s lives but if nothing more, each member became a reason in my life. Some of the reasons are obvious, some are little more than breadcrumbs of clues a strewn about the way.
Sometimes people just show up in the moment you need them. Sometimes, you can’t be sure why until later.
I felt the familiarity of a father I hadn’t felt in years, the encouragement of a cheerleader cheering for me to just be me, the camaraderie of four people of the same age in totally different places than us and the youthful liveliness of those younger than us with plenty of lessons to share.
The reasons abound, the seasons may present themselves and the lifetime will only know. Either way, I am grateful to have traveled all this way, only to find myself amongst my lessons, amongst tools to find my way through and amongst family already old and new.
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