I’m in Love…

I received a notice that my friend Laura had tagged me in a photo on Facebook. I clicked through to see what kind of compromising situation she’d caught on film.

But I couldn’t see anything. ????

Laura and her husband Craig were visiting me from Houston. We did the math on a shuttle bus in Estes Park and realized…we’ve been friends for 22 years. Criminy. In any case, one of their goals while in Colorado was to climb a Fourteener (in Colorado, that’s what we call our assortment of 50-some-odd 14,000 foot peaks). She had said something while we were at REI about hating to “pop a squat,” and I must have shrieked, “What!? You don’t have a pee funnel?” Looking perplexed, I decided to bring Laura into the Pee Funnel Circle of Trust. A pee funnel lets girls make standing up. It’s a plastic penis. It gives a girl the ability to write her name in the snow just like the boys. Screw the Suffrage movement. Get a Freshette.

She was so intrigued, I lent her mine for her first attempt at a Colorado Fourteener the next week.

Taking another look at the tagged Facebook picture…mother fuck.

She’d tagged my pee funnel in the photo as ME.

Tagged...I'm a pee funnel.

Over the past year, I’ve been really fortunate to discover some of the deeper aspects of friendship. Sure, you pick up and make new friends throughout your life wherever you land. Hell, new friends are the sand beneath our toes that lend texture to our lives and fill us with experiences, laughter and love. And I’m here to say I’m in love.

I wake up each day and marvel at where life’s brought me. Or rather, where I’ve delivered myself. I’ve witnessed my friends find love. Love for their husbands and wives, their children, their passions. And there’s not a single day I don’t wake up and have and overwhelming sense of love wash over me for the things I’ve earned in my own life. Better than any ray of sunlight peeking through my window, the contentment I’ve found in this path called life is…lovely.

In a single weekend, I reminisced with, talked and listened to two women (one of whom I hadn’t seen since 1992) who were in love. If you had told us 22 years ago that we’d all find REI more interesting than the mall, it would have prompted a middle finger in your general direction. While we’re still proficient with our middle finger skills, we’ve all woven independent lives that have somehow converged. Alison just radiates warmth – when she talks about her two kids, her canyoneering adventures, her successful medical spa business, her husband…the “her” time she finds to sit in solitude with a cup of coffee and a laptop while the house is empty. And Laura – married to a man who so obviously loves her (and vice versa) and having just conquered her very first Colorado Fourteener…her glow just lit up the entire town of Breckenridge as well. Maybe part of having come to love your life is the ability to see other people’s lives and recognize the love with which they live.

It’s not every day you actually get to look at the fabric of your life without ripping it apart. How threads so very different intertwine and rest against one another to create a unique life is beyond me…but hell fire, do I like it.

Maybe you’re thinking love – it’s grand when you can see it. But life hands us some shit, y’know? Yeah, we all know. When I was 16, it was unrequited affection from my best guy friend who dated allllll of our friends and always said “if I didn’t have a girlfriend…” Nights cried into a little purple throw pillow on my bed, bitch sessions with my best girlfriends, wondering why I wasn’t enough. Pretty enough, skinny enough, funny enough. Now that I’m 36, life’s shit has a different smell…more like cat crap left outside the box. Not where it belongs, but easy enough to manage with a scoop-and-toss maneuver followed by a spritz of something niiiiiiice.

When you see others who have come to deal with life’s challenges more like cat litter than being trapped in the LaBrea Tar Pits, it’s a pretty cool feeling. If you’re lucky enough to have had those people around for over 20 years…maybe you just might be livin’ right. At age 16, we never would have considered telling our friends that we love them. That was a word reserved for boys and girls who didn’t deserve it. But in the past few years, telling my friends I love them has been almost reflex-like. It’s not just what women think they feel after they bone a guy they brought home from a bar. It’s not the juvenile “I can’t live without you or I’ll die” thoughts we have when we’re in our teens and 20s.

When you come to a place in life where you’ve come to love yourself, well, I think that’s the key to understanding love. At age 16, 22 or whatever-the-hell-young, we haven’t lived enough, done enough or fucked up enough to have the tools to engage in self-love. So we look for love in other things. Boyfriends, girlfriends, things, hours at the office. Everyplace but ourselves.

I’ve heard that some people “get” love when their kids are born. It’s not surprising. The realization that something or someone can add so much to what you thought was an already full life…yeah – that’s love. At the first stroke of dawn, the last flickering of a streetlight…when you find the things that add to your life instead of take away and drain. That’s love. It’s something bigger than you, but you have to bring YOU to the table to get it. So yes, it’s true: I’m in love. With my life, my friends, my career and my litter box outlook on the challenges I may face. Crazy little thing, this love. Sneaks up and gives you a kiss when you least expect it.

You visit my blog because you love my ranting. Thanks for staying for my rant about the kind of love you can’t buy…you can only be so lucky as to earn.

22 Years Later...Oakes & Erikka (not a typo) :)

Circa 1989ish...Laura & Erikka (all my friends spelled my name with 2 k's)

11 comments
Cali teh Gater
Cali teh Gater

I love this post. The thing about this is that those of us blessed enough to have YOU in our lives feel the love, too. You're a magnificent friend. <3

uber
uber

I have to agree. A very nice post and I feel like I've actually seen a bit of the the real you. Not this angry facade that seems to dominate your usual rambles. I wouldn't call this a 'rant' about love. I'd call it something else. Not sure what, but calling it a rant just goes back to that angry shit and this ain't it.

Ted
Ted

Ahhh! The softer side of the Redhead. I love all your posts, but this one really hits a home run with me. You could not be more correct about the learning to love yourself aspect of understanding love, so vital to "getting it." And having kids? Don't get me started. Love goes off the chain at that point! OK, BLECH, enough of that... we now return you to your regularly schedule Redhead! Peace, Ted... or more recognizable to you, @Tekee

Alison
Alison

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww girl!!!! It was so stinking awesome to see you as well. What a great re-connect this past weekend was. You wrote the sweetest story ever Erikka (with two K's) Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww............let's go hike and do some canyons damnit!

Laura
Laura

I love you too!!! DAMN IT!!!

Sarah Welch
Sarah Welch

Why Erika, this is downright cuddly :)

Lisa
Lisa

Beautiful!

Darren
Darren

I thought Dorothy Hamill had a patent on that haircut. No, wait. That was Mark Hamill. Very nice sentiments indeed. Can't speak about the pee funnel (Wife 1.1 swears by them) but love...you certainly raise more questions than answers, but so does everyone who talks about love. You rock, as usual...

The Redhead
The Redhead

Awww...shucks! Thanks Cali teh Gater. #chompchomp :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

@Uber Thanks for stopping by again...I'd posted previously that I'd be unable to approve any more of your comments (nice or not) unless you use a real email address...that stands and I'm just reiterating. This is the last. The comments policy is clear - a girl's gotta have her standards! And thanks to everyone else who continues to stop by and the new readers out there. Glad you're enjoying the content and well, if you're not, throw fruit or something. See you all next week and be sure to check out my new column every Thursday on www.ToyWithMe.com. Got a sexy question - ask Dear Redhead! :)