Hi, I'm your drop-in friend
I surprised a friend on Saturday, dropping by with a load of baby stuff that I'd promised her, and although it wasn't entirely unexpected (we had planned to meet the day before, but I couldn't make it, and I'd sent a series of emails promising imminent delivery), we hadn't set a definite time for my arrival. My little boy and I were out running errands on Saturday, though (oh, the mighty errand day!), and, noticing that I was around the corner from her house, I decided to take a chance and ring the doorbell.
Mama was ... um ... not dressed for company.
Unfazed, I brightly announced, "Hi, I'm your drop-in friend!" and offered to bring in the things I had for her in the car.
Now, in the D.C. suburbs, this Just Isn't Done. But for a moment there, I forgot that we were in the D.C. suburbs, and my Southern upbringing took over. I came in when she invited me, offered any help that I could (you'll find out why in a subsequent post!), and then brought in the baby goodies while she played with my child. Widget even helped me carry in the exersaucer, and I was so proud of him for being such a big boy.
As I left, we were both in good cheer, an unexpected talk with a friend richer, but it got me thinking.
Are the days of drop-in friends really over?
During my illness, I've been very fortunate to have a team of women coalesce around me, helping me and my family make it through. Every week, I'd get a call offering help with errands, shopping, meals, babysitting, whatever. Every week, a mom would arrive with a home-cooked meal for us. Every week, I'd open the door to see a happy mom, kids in tow, laden down with everything from salad to dessert, and often flowers too. It's been wonderful.
I think what I liked most was the parade of women at my door, dropping by after preschool dropoff, coming in with freshly cooked dinner just before rush hour, with kids in tow, ready to play. The kids would pull off their hats and coats and run in to play with Widget. The moms would walk with me (when I was ambulatory) downstairs and tell me how to finish or reheat the meal. We'd chat for a bit, have a laugh, and catch up on the latest from playgroup or politics. Or playgroup politics. The time would pass, and when they left, we all would be smiling.
I'm trying to pay it forward by doing the same thing now with friends who are sick, who have birthdays, who have disappointments in their lives (as we all, eventually, do). Usually I call first, but sometimes I just tie a present on the door handle, drop a package behind the flowerpot, or leave a note peeking out from the screen door. It feels good, really good, to be able to do this for others again, and it brings me joy.
But I really should call first.