I’m not saying this to elicit sympathy or anything – it’s a simple statement of fact – but I don’t have many friends. I never have. I’ll probably elaborate more on this in the future, but for now it’s sufficient for you to know that my social circle is small and has been for as long as I can remember. The number of people I call close friends (minus the husband and my immediate family, of course) would fit in one hand. And I only have one true, best friend – this gal.
Angela and I met in college. In fact, she was among the very first people I came across on the day we moved into our dorm, she in her blue pajama pants and Dave Matthews Band shirt, her face puffy from crying as she said goodbye to her family. It’s funny that she remembers exactly how I looked that first day too, with my white tank top and jean shorts, my eyes also red with tears. She’s since told me that, despite us both being disheveled messes, she knew the instant we were first introduced that we were going to be great friends; my first impression of her was that she was too cool to want to hang out with a geek like me. And indeed, we were (and still are in a lot of ways) total opposites. She was bold, flirtatious, a social butterfly whose beauty and infectious laughter made her the center of attention everywhere she went; I was quiet, introverted, and preferred to stay unobserved on the fringes of the crowd. We were two forces that should have opposed each other but, for some reason neither of us quite understand and still marvel over, we were instead drawn together. She drew me out of my shell; I helped keep her grounded. She introduced me to good coffee and the hilarity that is Office Space; I introduced her to the joys of roller coasters and Jelly Belly jelly beans. We only lived down the hall and around the corner from each other for a semester before I became a resident assistant and moved across campus, but that ended up being one of the best four-month stretches of my life.
The two years that we attended college together went far too quickly; we’ve had a long-distance friendship ever since, for almost two decades. She stayed close to her home in upstate New York, not far from our school, and I moved back to the mid-Atlantic region. Life has taken us in different directions – she has a family of her own now (and you, dear reader, know what I’ve been up to) – but that’s never mattered with us. Our friendship is no less strong for the different experiences we’ve had, and is probably richer for it. It’s the sort where, regardless of how much time passes in between visits and what we’ve done in the meantime, every time we see each other, we pick up right where we left off.
To make sure that we have at least one opportunity a year to squeeze in some quality time with each other, we vowed that every summer, we would take a trip somewhere, just the two of us. This year our travels took us to Watkins Glen, New York, right in the midst of the Finger Lakes wine country. We couldn’t have picked a better place – we spent two days drinking fantastic wine, eating delicious food, talking and laughing non-stop. And though it’s gotten a little easier to say goodbye to each other at the end of our visits – there have been times where we clutched one another like two girls drowning, sobbing as if our hearts were breaking – I always feel the same wistful pang when I turn to leave. But I know that after all these years, she’s not going anywhere…she will always be there for me, regardless of the miles that separate us. And I hope she knows that I’m always there for her too.