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my friends...

Written By ritagpatel

  • 6:48am, 18/07/08

    The best experience of my life is having become close to my friends' children. They are two girls – ages 7 (Sydney) and 8 (Tia) – and I believe I receive more from them than I probably could ever give them. Am I an aunt to them? Well, we talk about our relationship and feel that we are more like friends. It is hard to imagine from the outside that a 37 year old adult counts a 7 and 8 year old among her close friends, but it’s true!

    I was in a transition period in my life in the summer of 2006 while living in NYC. I had come to Michigan to visit my friends and they offered me space in their home to start my own business, a design company. So by the end of September I found myself living with my best friend from high school and her family in a lovely area outside of Detroit, Michigan…the best move, literally and figuratively, that I have ever made, all around.

    I try to describe my relationship with Sydney and Tia’s family to my other friends and family and I am never quite sure if I convey it completely. I have always wanted to be a mother; to be with children but not with a specific reason of knowing why. Now being with the girls, I am able to give in a special way that I have not had the opportunity to before. The growth and joy that comes from that is unanticipated, profound and priceless. I feel that I learn something almost every day and am thinking I should be recording all of it!

    The girls have really loving and talented parents. As a result, they are grounded, happy and truly open to expressing and experiencing. They are very bright and creative, yet they both create in similar and different ways. I am a designer and artist and they are both artistic with clear visions and idea - and sketches! The input and ideas we share are really inspiring - from designing and making clothes to art ideas. We talk about design, see exhibits together (our recent trip to Barcelona was really wonderful thing to share) and learn from each other. For instance, I recently learned how to draw faces from Tia! I could go on and on…and then there are books and movies that we have similar tastes in. They even give me good dating and - of course - fashion advice...being the daughters of a designer and all. It is all very collaborative with a back and forth flow.

    Simply put, if these girls were not in my life, there would be emptiness and a certain richness in my life would be missing. It is the most amazing feeling to see them excited to see me. I am very fortunate.
    Some specific stories of our daily lives:
    1. Spells that Sydney and Tia wrote for me one evening:
    Love is true no matter what
    Now it is time to make your final putt (for love)

    Love is right beside you only if you think.
    Look beside you and do not blink.
    Protect your soul it does not matter where you are, just look up to the sky and find a shining star.
    Hope you family is fine. Hope you have a good time.
    2. Series of Unfortunate Events; Star Wars; Lord of the Rings: We are reading the Series of Unfortunate Events together and it is fun to share the stories afterwards. And we will plan on seeing the movie together soon – which we are very excited about. We have already done group movies like this before with two other series. Over Thanksgiving on the drive to the east coast and back– we saw all six Star Wars movies together and did the same on another road trip to Chicago with the Lord of The Rings series. It makes it so much more fun to be able to talk about all the things we liked together during and afterwards. We all enjoy these types of stories.
    3. Designing dresses together & Project Runway: All three of us are also very much into designing and fashion but are good at different parts of it. There are times when we together design dresses or parts of the designs – like I will do a part and hand it off and one of the girls will make the pattern on it. So of course, we are all very much into Project Runway which is inspiring and another way to share our interests, ideas and creativity.
    4. Tia is teaching me how to play chess…she devised the teaching method herself. And I am finding it the best way to learn as compared to how other people have taught me in the past. She is teaching me to play by piece. So the first time we only played with the pawns to get down their movements, etc.
    5. SRT restaurant (S=Sydney; R= Rita; T= Tia): I regularly cook dinner for the family and the girls would usually set the table. So one day the girls came up with the idea of SRT Restaurant to formalize the whole process and dining event. Sydney is the hostess and helps clean up afterwards; Rita cooks; Tia asks for drink orders, sets table and cleans up afterwards also. It is fun to think about it this way.