The end of the world and the Big Chill

So it’s the end of the world. What better time to reflect on what makes life bearable?

The movie The Bill Chill is one of those movies that I always watch when flipping channels. The story begins with a crisis. Those strong friendships are something I’ve always wanted in my life. I used to think… I want friends like that!

It’s funny how you don’t recognize who those friends are until you feel the chill. What I love is… how they come out of the woodwork during a time of crisis. They can be friends you’ve had for decades but may have drifted apart from. In my case, I lose touch every time I move away from Benicia, which has been multiple times. I do keep coming back and my friends are always here.

When a family first breaks up, there is a period of disorientation… with a feeling of being lost and not knowing which direction to go. When I hit that point, my dear friend William made it very easy. He said, “It’s time to come home.” I could not believe how such a simple idea could be so comforting.

Maybe it’s because I was coming home to Benicia. When I ask people what they love about this town, they almost always say something about the strong sense of community and the great people here. It’s true. I’ve lived in many different places including Europe and I have never found a stronger community of kind people than we have here… really. This was the perfect place for my little Biscuit and I to be after my husband and I split.

What I love is when I do reconnect with old friends and it’s like no time has passed. When my dear friend Carol returned to Benicia to visit, a party was thrown in her honor. It was like a family reunion for us all. It was a real Big Chill scene but without the husband-sharing. We were all a bit older but not much else had changed.

As the evening wore on, the urgency to enjoy time with my friends lead me to drink too much too quickly. When our gracious hostess found me curled up on the staircase, she kindly tucked me into a bed. When I awoke early the next morning, I found myself laying beneath giant green leaves, like something out of A Bug’s Life. For a minute I could not remember where I was.

When I realized I was in the kids’ room at the party house, it hit me… I was that guest that had to stay over… insert gasp here. I was horrified and absolutely embarrassed. As I quietly crept downstairs with my shoes in hand, I heard voices coming from the kitchen. To my surprise and delight, the entire party was on the deck drinking bloody marys and eating breakfast. It turns out almost everybody had stayed over. That’s when I knew I was home.

I feel truly blessed to have such amazing friends, especially during my transition to my new life as a single parent. My friends have been instrumental in helping me find my feet, all in different ways. Some offer an ear, babysitting or the heavy lifting of furniture. These people give me faith in humanity.

Then during serious breakdowns and when you feel you’re most vulnerable, there is always that special friend you call in the middle of the night. It’s the friend that you truly trust, the one that can talk you down and tell you it’s going to be okay.

I always feel bad when I call that friend only in a time of crisis. That is until one such friend told me that it was honor to be that person, that the absolute trust is what made our bond so strong. It’s like that exercise we did as kids, where you fall back and trust your friends to catch you. When a friend catches you or pull you back to the surface, that’s a friend for life.

The best part about this kind of support, is that it’s contagious. The generosity, empathy and support I’ve received has made me want to pay it forward. I’ve committed myself to helping friends in need when ever I can… and honestly I get so much out of it. I feel amazing when I am able to help someone else in crisis… when I am the one that gets called in the middle of the night. It’s funny, somehow I find strength I didn’t know I had when it’s somebody else who needs help.

I think the secret to surviving the big chill of life, is knowing it’s okay to call that friend at 2am. He or she will be glad you did. Besides, we all take turns being the faller and the catcher. Next time, you’ll be the one getting the call.

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