by Tracy E. Hill
There is something different and eternally wonderful about your childhood friends. And even better is one who to this day is still your “bestie.”
I recently had the occasion to have one of my oldest and dearest friends over for a visit. Although we keep in touch via text, email and phone calls, there’s nothing that compares to girl time in person. And better yet, girl time without significant others lurking around.
At a time when I’m feeling lost and vulnerable, I reached out to Karen – and she immediately accepted my last minute invitation for a girls night sleepover. I was anticipatory of her visit and looked forward to it all day long. I left work with a skip in my step and for the first time in a long time, looked forward to a quick grocery shop to have everything we’d need to hunker down and chat.
Of course, her train was delayed which meant missing the connection. No fault of hers, but it meant precious time lost with her. I arrived at the train station in the dark of night to find an isolated station and no sign of Karen. I panicked. What if she didn’t make it? What if she backed out? But then I saw her long dark hair, her porcelain skin against the lamp posts and her lean silhouette coming towards my truck. She laughed with ease as she proclaimed “You were right! Your truck is bad ass!”
It was too late too cook so we rushed back towards home before everything in town closed – just like our hometown and not the big city where she had just left, and everything stays open 24 hours a day.
We sat at the bar stools and talked and talked. We yapped so much the waitress had to remind us the kitchen would soon close before we ordered if we didn’t get a move on. And then after we were warm from pinot noir and our bellies were satiated, we noticed that the wait staff was all lingering around waiting for us to leave. So we did.
We got home and cozied up on the couch for more pinot and girl time. She laughed and giggled when I told her a memory from Camp Seneca Lake and she told me while holding back tears “No, we didn’t burn the cabin down, but yes – we were there.” And I was awed and humbled that she remembered everything. My invention from when I was 23 years old, my silly old habits, my ex-boyfriends and friends, my mom and so much more. She knew me. She remembered my history and knew who I was and made sure to remind me of that. She told me I was strong and smart and confident and all the things I wasn’t feeling lately.
She told me that although my latest endeavor may end up to be an “epic failure” that “at least you tried.” And she told me that most people never even try and how I’ve done so much more than that. She believes in me. She reminded me of all the things in my life that I had accomplished as well as the few that I had failed at – and she told me that I was amazing and that my life was complete. She wrapped her comfort around me. I shared with her some new stories and secrets. She didn’t judge me but offered her gentle wisdom and thoughts.
I listened to her about her work and how she feels about where she is, where she wants to be and where she’s going. We talked about our parents and my dad and her dad. I boasted about my kids and felt heavy in my heart that this wonderful, giving woman will never have children of her own.
It’s so different when you talk to someone that you’ve known your whole life and they know you. There’s a history there that connects and bonds and seals us together through everything. She doesn’t judge me nor I her. She doesn’t get angry at me when I don’t call, nor I her. But at any point in time, when I talk to Karen it’s like I saw her yesterday and we pick right up where we left off the last time.
We stayed up until after 2 in the morning and reluctantly went to bed. In the morning, I whipped up my signature breakfast. Afterwards, we went right back to the couch and chatted for another six hours or more until we realized that it was now late afternoon and I had to rush her to the train before she missed it.
In the fifty years that I’ve known Karen, we’ve laughed yet rarely cried together. But as I write this, the tears of gratitude fall – for having her. My wonderful, childhood friend.
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