It was a bright July morning in London this past summer when my husband, kids and I stepped out of our Air B&B flat to the sun-streaked pathway outside. As we started our walk toward South Kensington, we met up with a woman living in another flat down the row from ours. She said hello to us and kindly commented on what a beautiful family we were. I told her thank you as I extended my hand and introduced myself. She responded that her name was Marmar, and David and the kids also took turns introducing themselves and shaking her hand.
She asked if we were here visiting from Canada, to which I grinned and replied, “Well, yes and no. We’re here visiting, yes. But we’re from the United States.”
She said, “Oh! I love Americans! They are so friendly! I hope you’re enjoying your stay here.”
My husband mentioned that we were having a wonderful time, and the kids nodded enthusiastically in agreement. Then I asked her, “Are you from London?” to which she responded, “No, I’m from Iran. But I’ve lived in London a few years now.”
We talked a bit more, and she turned to my kids to ask their ages. Faith piped up that she was 14, and James told her that he and Ethan were twins and almost 18. She looked and me with wide eyes and said, “YOU had twins!? You don’t look like it at all!” I laughed and told her thank you. I added, “If you could see my stretch marks, you’d believe it.” She replied, “Oh, I know all about stretch marks! I have three kids myself.”
While David and kids walked ahead, Marmar and I chatted more about the number kids do on our bodies, but also how those same kiddos are worth it, of course. After saying goodbye and parting ways, I smiled thinking how stretch marks are a unifier of many a mom.
As my family and I walked several blocks toward the Victoria & Albert museum, I kept picturing Marmar with her kind eyes and relaxed demeanor. I have no idea what her faith is or where she stands on Brexit. I don’t know her parenting philosophy or anything else about her, really. But in those few minutes, we were just two women enjoying an easy, unforced conversation. Landing on the smallest commonality stripped away potential labels, and Marmar and I were able to connect as women and moms.
Last weekend, I attended the (in)Real Life: Friended Simulcast as a panelist, and ever since then I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships, specifically the un-obvious places we might find friends. Of course, over the summer we weren’t in London long enough for me to become friends with Marmar. I don’t even know if she would have been interested in that anyway! However, I’ve been considering the importance of striking up friendships with women who are different from me in ways beyond the typical, run-of-the-mill differences. I want the people in my life to reflect the halls of heaven where a diverse tapestry of believers reside.
All it takes is finding the smallest commonality that unites you and another person together, like stretch marks.
Some time ago, another friend of mine shared with me a commonality that all women need within their friendships, and I’m discovering those friends may also be in unlikely places–albeit closer than we think.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of participating in a panel for the (in)Real Life: Friended Simulcast. While my particular panel talked about what “going first” looks like in friendships, the event covered many other aspects of friendship as well. I didn’t take many pics from the event as I was too busy all weekend soaking up GREAT content as well as talking with some incredible folks! If you missed the simulcast, click right here to get your digital pass to watch through November 14th. It will be well worth your time!