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The Deaconess recently remarked that after visiting family, the kids always seem to make some kind of developmental leap. There are new words, new actions, new understandings.

It occurred to me today that this is true for me too. On such visits, we share experience and information. We observe. We learn.

Last week, I had the rare opportunity to visit an old friend I hardly ever see anymore. We were quite close many years ago, and now, it’s one of those friendships where we may not see each other for years, but we somehow manage to pick up right where we left off. Over dinner, she asked me about how my work was going, and how it was balancing multiple jobs, multiple careers even. It was an ordinary question, and I started to answer it in an ordinary fashion. But as I talked, I heard myself include some specifics about exactly how I felt about certain aspects of my life, what I wanted to do more of and less of, and what I saw as a temporary means to an end vs. what I hoped would be a permanent part of my life. Anyone could have asked me that question, and many have, but for some reason, my answer to this particular friend was different.

Thinking of this today, I remembered my nieces at the beach. I remembered watching Addie open her mouth in the ocean to find out what seawater tastes like and Nora grabbing my hand to pull me to the water at sunset, saying “Look!”

There are things only certain people can show us. It’s shared experience that breeds this. I sat across the table from my old friend, and a whole vocabulary of shared experience came back to me. This was a person with whom I’d practiced figuring out my hopes and dreams from a young age. We saw each other make choices, try and fail, revise plans and start again. She brought that knowledge of me with her, and it informed her question.

I can imagine a time years from now when these three beautiful girls might come together. They’ll discuss their lives, successes and failures, new plans. They’ll offer perspectives. And whether or not they think of it in the moment, they’ll remember things like jumping on the bed together, making sandcastles, and tracing their feet with crayons. And when they start asking each other the big questions, like are you happy with your life, and what is it you want, perhaps it will seem a little easier to find answers. Perhaps those developmental leaps will keep happening.