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Honey was still in college when we married, and he studied engineering, so taking the job with the State Department came along unexpectedly. We love it, not least because it’s taken us to places we’d have never planned to visit, much less live.
Our first taste of what a foreign lifestyle would be like came when Honey got assigned to the Boston field office. Yes, Boston, Massachusetts. For two native Texans, Boston was plenty foreign, trust me!
We arrived in Boston not knowing a soul, but as we acclimated to the accent, driving, and cold, we quickly found a friendly welcome in the young marrieds’ group at our church in Marblehead. We were still the only Texans, but we weren’t the only New England transplants: couples from North Carolina, Washington, Nebraska, Alaska, Maine, and Mississippi rounded out the group.
We bonded quickly and have maintained close ties though most of us left the Boston area. Some of the families work together now; several have collaborated on ministry activities. Almost all of us have children now. While the group was forming, only one couple had kids.
I think of this group often because they gave our marriage a different direction. We had thought of ourselves as “us apart from everyone else,” but in that group, we started to see ourselves as part of a community, and seeking community has motivated me as I approach people in each new spot we’ve landed in since leaving Boston ten years ago. We based our “family is team” philosophy on what we heard other parents in the group doing. Doing so has made for a more open, more accepting, more secure, more joyful life. ”Gratitude” doesn’t adequately speak to the way I feel about these friends and their affect on our life.
Everyone has scattered. Sending Christmas cards to the group means addressing envelopes to six states, if memory serves, and our family keeps heading to foreign countries, further complicating the address lists. Things haven’t always been rosy. Couples in the group have faced miscarriages, infertility, joblessness, betrayals, the adoption journey with its twisting paths, crises of faith, and family deaths together, supported by the larger group as well. We used to meet weekly; now it can be months, even years, between visits, particularly for us.
Today, however, Blossom and Ladybug played with the daughters of another couple from the group. They live near us in the DC area, for the time being, and our daughters have settled into the instant friendships that children often form and that we adults usually marvel at.
Of course, as I sat with my friend Emily today, laughing and talking, we didn’t marvel once at the bonds between our daughters. We recognize them, after all. They’re the same bonds that have held a group of their parents together for over a decade.