"My grandma might be dying and I’m driving up to see her”, Jen informed me over the phone on Friday. Is it wrong that I felt excited about that? Not excited about Grandma Hawk being sick - that part sucks. I was excited that Jen, my long lost Carolina-living best friend who I haven’t seen in over 6 months, was coming home. This is the longest I think we've ever gone without seeing each other so, without hesitation, Lena and I packed light and blazed a trail for Newcomerstown, leaving Rich and Sam behind to have a girl-free, boys’ weekend at home.
When Jen makes her all too infrequent trips to Newcomerstown, it means the three of us (Jen, Tara and I) get together and talk until our throats hurt, eat until we fear we might have permanently damaged our intestines, and laugh until we nearly pee ourselves. It’s a beautiful thing.
It was a short visit. After Tara and Lena congratulated each other on their recent baptisms, and after Lena and Jen were finally introduced; the three of us headed to my parents’ kitchen and assumed our usual positions: me sitting on the counter eating chocolate, Tara sitting on the stool in the corner eating smarties, and Jen twisting herself into contortionist positions to push the corner of the counter top into some painful pressure point nagging her back from her long drive home.
And we talked.
And we ate (although not as much as usual).
And we laughed.
Even with all the crazy shit Jen has going on right now with her grandma and her family and her jobs, and with the pressures Tara’s family has felt with Gregg out of work and finally finding a new job (thank God), and with me having two tiny kids and working and feeling inadequate in every aspect…even with all of that crap piled up in our minds and all of the physical distance that separates us most of the year; we picked up right where we left off. It’s as if no time has passed when we’re together, like we’ve bridged the space/time continuum. Even though we’re in our mid-30’s (who said that?), when we’re together we are those three idiots in high school talking about boys and parents and God and life and laughing about it all.
We are each other’s oldest friends. We know every aspect about each other’s childhoods and adolescences and college years, because we’ve been best friends since third grade. And even though we don’t know what goes on day-to-day in each other’s lives much, we know each other to the core. Relationships like that are a rare and precious thing.
So is the realization that the truck stop's food, while still as yummy and greasy as it used to be, takes as big of a toll on our mid-30's (who keeps saying that?) bodies as does mojitos and tequila shots...