This time last year, I was groaning for reprieve.

For about 8 months our home had been the headquarters of sorts (that feels weird and political. try again, Shan?)... okay, the central location of (? better?) the Denton Catholic Worker community.  The house of hospitality had closed after a one-year lease that spring and we were the only ones in the community who really had a home, so we offered it.

All summer we had three single guys in and out of our house during the day and sleeping in their vans in our driveway at night.

(Does that sound sketch? Let me clarify: we trusted these guys with our lives.  In fact they became our sons' godfathers that summer so technically we trusted them with our children's lives, too.)

 All summer, folks came.  Our house might as well have been another city bus stop for all of the coming and going that went on in it.  The homeless, the college students, the alcoholics, the idealists, the mentally fragile.  We cooked together, ate together, prayed together, did Lectio Divinia together.  That summer was one of the sweetest times of our lives.  We always considered the safety of our children and no one we didn't trust knew where the house was, but yeah, sometimes it got messy.  But usually it was pretty darn good.

In September, two single girls moved in to our guest bedroom.  Two of the sweetest, happiest, most kid-lovin' girls you ever met.  One praying about becoming a nun, one with a then-shaved head and tattoos.  When they moved in, it was like the floodgates opened. The city bus stop became Grand Central Station and there was always someone home.  Or twelve.  (Usually more like twelve.)

At night I would put the boys down and crank up the sound machine as loud as it would go so that Moses wasn't awakened by the clanking of dishes, the roar of laughter, or the off-key singing.  We would all stay up late into the night discussing the tenants of the Catholic Worker... or watching Gilmore Girls. Half the time someone would just spend the night on the couch, someone else on the floor.  We'd step over sleeping bodies as Alyosha caught the bus in the morning, grinning at how very lucky we were to have lives so full of love.

It was the very best thing that could have happened to us.  Granted, I couldn't walk around my house in my underwear anymore.  I moved the living room armchair into our bedroom just to have a place to be alone.  I'm an introvert, and I was stretched.  Believe that.  But I was also so, so thankful.  We had known what it was to feel totally alone and we were never going back there again.  For all the ways we sacrificed, we received back just as much.

(I cooked less and ate better that year than any other year of our marriage.  And that my friends, is the way to live.)

Last December when they moved to a house to prepare to open a pay-what-you-can restaurant, I was ready.  Ready to have my house back, ready to be alone sometimes, ready for some space and sense of normalcy.  We had discerned that Alyosha really needed a break and some predictablity, too.  It was time.  We were still involved, up until literally the moment our moving van pulled out of town in July, but our home was just ours once more.

But December has rolled around again, this time finding us half a country away, and my heart is groaning yet again.  But not for reprieve.  My heart is groaning for those crazy people to bike up my driveway and walk in without knocking.  My heart is groaning for the bag of almonds Chris fished out of the dumpster... or the new dress Cindy scored for me on donation day at the church on the corner... or the pie Meghan would bring over to eat while we let the kids roll in mud.

I miss my friends.

I miss them and this post doesn't really have a point, except that I want you guys to know about them.

You should know that Peggy bakes the best gluten free chocolate cakes.
That John likes to belly dance.
That Allyson goes insane with joy when it snows.
That Andres' sarcasm cracks me up.
You should know that it's hard to stop looking at Brittany's eyes.
That Angelika is the biggest feeler I've ever met.
That Maureen is like a badass mother hen.
You should know that it takes Shawn 1,927 hours to make a decision.
That Hannah goes to mass every single day.
That Charlene has an accent I've never been able to place.
That you'd never want Emily to leave your couch.

I miss breaking bread together.  I miss loving the world together.  I miss seeking justice together.  It's December and it's cold, and I just miss my friends.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)