This is what it looks like when your soul gets a facelift.
If you ask me the last time I laughed so hard it made my stomach hurt, I will tell you about the Great Umbrella Debacle.
It was a blustery day, and rain was imminent, and we knew this, but the three of us were determined to get together anyway. Because we rarely had the chance to get together any more, and what’s a little rain?
Hilarity and madness ensue. All the umbrellas flip inside out. As I announce I’ve never had an umbrella break, half my umbrella goes limp, dumping a pool of water down the front of me as my two best friends laugh uncontrollably at the irony. Maxine’s umbrella flips inside out, succumbing to the gale-force winds. Christine’s umbrella tries to drag her down Fifth Ave. We are laughing too hard to put up a fair fight. Those umbrellas, they had an agenda.
Then we look around, and everyone else on the street is TOTALLY UNAFFECTED by the weather. No one else’s umbrella has gone rogue. The wind, still spinning us in circles, doesn’t even seem to flutter the canopies of the other umbrellas.
That’s when we stopped, and we all laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. We laughed so hard it warmed our hearts and filled up our souls. Soaked, discombobulated, late for dinner, the three of us shared one of my favorite memories.
When we all graduated in December, I cried a lot because Maxine was going to Spain and Christine was going to Arizona and I was still stuck in Jersey, slated to move in with my boyfriend. None of it was the plan– I was the LAST one of us that was supposed to fall in love. These girls has saved me in college from years of feeling alone, misunderstood and apologizing for my quirky ways. They were my people. People aren’t just allowed to leave.
Except, but, they do. So I said goodbye, and cried a lot, and went to Boston on business, and moved in with my boyfriend, and walked at Radio City while Maxine traveled to Paris and slept on the beaches of Spain and Christine coached track at the local high school in Arizona while filling out law school applications. Life goes on, but I knew New York would never be quite the same for me. Like a gem necklace that’s now antique, appreciating in value for its endurance but not necessarily its luster.
When we found out we’d all be back in New York for the summer, I almost fell off my chair. It was too good to be true. We never thought that would happen for us again.
Of course our schedules would never match up, but we managed to have breakfast the week Maxine came back from Spain, and it felt better– more like home– knowing that they were within freakout distance if I needed them. (I never used the convenience; I’ve stopped having meltdown-freakouts.) We talked for hours, about everything we’ve missed. Life… I can’t get over it. Life just moves so damn fast!
I got a call from Christine just over 24 hours ago, telling me she’s moving to Texas pretty immediately for work. It would have been easy to go back to the Sad Place, where I cry unexpectedly on the subway, and watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns all by myself, missing the Cristina and Izzy to my Meredith. I didn’t cry. I didn’t get sad. I just got off my couch and went to Hoboken to help her pack. Then we rallied with Maxine and had one last girls’ dinner– because, let’s be honest. When are we all going to be together again?
We don’t know. They’re my best friends, have been for the past two years, and we don’t know. A year ago, that would have broken me. But there’s something unique about the way I’ve bonded with Maxine and Christine, something special in the way we’ve kept in touch, how the world alone will never be big enough to truly keep us apart. They’ve helped me become the woman I am, held my hand through the hard times and watched me date the losers and rolled their eyes when I was all “I don’t know if I’m dating James or not…”
They’re my people. I’ve shared pieces of myself with these girls that you can’t give to anyone else. None of us necessarily lead the way as we forged our futures, but we were doing it together. We were a team. We still are… Always will be.
And I believe wholeheartedly that we’re ok as who we are as individuals now because of the time we spent together. It’s ok that I live with a boy, and I’ve hung up my tequila shot glass, that Tine coaches track and Maxine will hopefully spend part of the summer in Greece with the man we all hope she marries. (Sorry, Justin Timberlake. Max is the only one still pulling for you to be in the running.)
We’re all stepping up to start the next phases of Our Big Adventures. I’m looking at Graduate Schools. Maxine is heading to the Canary Islands. Christine will end up back in Phoenix. I can’t wait to hear about track practice, and life on the beach. They’re stuck listening to puppy talk, and about how my perfect boyfriend cooks and does the dishes.
And I know, eventually, it’ll all come together again. And we’ll find ourselves gathered together somewhere on Fifth Ave., doubled over in laughter… Laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. That’s what we do.
They’re my amazing friends, two of the strongest and most beautiful women I’ve ever met. We’re growing up, and stepping out. We’re each other’s people.
Always will be.