Friends #38 and 39: Grace and Amy (and families)

Finally!  A reliable internet connection and some time to catch up on documenting the multitude of great visits I’ve had.  Thank you for bearing with me through this much longer than anticipated hiatus.  Today I bring you my visits in Wisconsin (Hello, Wisconsin!).  I called a dear friend Micky, who went to school in Eau Claire, for recommendations on where to eat and stopped at the Grand Avenue Cafe.  Had a great waiter who was wearing a shirt with a big pheasant on it.  He’s in a band, the name of which he wrote on a napkin for me, which I cannot currently locate.

From Eau Claire, I landed in Madison and visited Grace.  Grace had a baby less than 2 weeks before I arrived, so she definitely had a free pass to not get back to me, but sure enough, on my drive through Wisconsin, I heard from her and gave her a call.  Her husband Nathan picked up the phone and sported an excellent accent.  “Way to pick ’em, Grace!” I thought.  He’s from New Zealand and is a speech pathologist at the University of Wisconsin.  Grace is in the process of getting her Ph.D.  I met up with them and Anne (after Anne of Green Gables) and newborn Alistair in their backyard amidst a lot of major road construction.  Some sub-tours on this journey include Big Ten college towns and state capitols.

One of the many state capitols I've seen on the trip--this one in Madison, Wisconsin.

Grace and I met when I was a freshman and she was a sophomore at Michigan.  We were the only two undergraduate students who went to our small church at that time.  We really don’t think we’ve seen each other since that time, though we had several friends of friends.  I remember liking Grace, but not really knowing her very well.  Sitting down with Grace and Nathan and the kids, even for a short time, I thought they were super cool.  I feel like I’ve almost gotten to know Grace better via Facebook than I ever knew her in undergrad.  We had the stereotypical catch-up exchange when we became friends on Facebook–she’d heard about some of what I’d been up to in Los Angeles–and that led to jumping right into a great breadth of conversation in-person.  Grace often posts things that I appreciate, as well.  It was great to manifest in real life a connection that felt like it deepened online.

Anne, Nathan, Alistair, and Grace

Since my visit with Grace and family was planned so last-minute (and I miscalculated the distance from Twin Cities to Madison to Milwaukee), it was brief.  And soon I headed off in rush-hour traffic toward Milwaukee.  Who knew that Madison would actually have rush hour?

I landed in Milwaukee at my college friend Amy’s house.  Last I saw her was at a mutual friend’s wedding when she was pregnant with daughter Chloe.  Now she and husband Dave have Chloe and Ty.  Before that, I saw her at her own wedding.  Amy and our friend Emily and I would meet weekly at the end of undergrad to talk about life together.  It was one of the best times of close committed friendship and community I’ve had in my life, and I will always remember it with a deep fondness.

Amy is a quieter person, so I think she can be overlooked by people.  But once you get to know her, it is such a privilege to be one of the people she shares her inner thoughts with.  Being friends with her makes me feel like I’m in on a secret hidden treasure that other people miss out on.  She is a deep well of wisdom and insight.  She is a true and loyal friend.  And from the days of our being single college girls, it’s fun to see how her life has evolved to wife and mother of two and part-time landscape architect.  Even in our short time together, I caught glimpses of how she uses her wealth of creativity both professionally (even in their own front yard) and parentally.

Amy, Chloe, and Ty

Once Amy made me a collage of pictures for a birthday card.  She put it in the sleeve of her binder of recipes at that time, and it has stayed there to this day.  A fun walk down memory lane:

Amy's birthday card to me almost 9 years ago!

Amy and family were kind enough to host me in a brief space between other house guests.  I’m so grateful I got the chance to spend time with them!

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