We met when I had just turned 22 and was starting my first grown-up job. We soon bonded over our boss (a terrible, terrible person) while drinking venti Frappacinos at the Starbucks downstairs from our office, the place where we went to escape Miranda and her countless cruel comments.
In those days, E and I were both newly graduated from college and full of questions about what life would be like. In the next few years, we talked about finding love, about what we were really going to be when we grew up, about how to decorate our first solo apartments, about sex and boys and having babies some day.
Eventually we would each go on to be bridesmaids in the other one’s wedding. She was the first person I called after I met Mr. Monkey for the first time and on my list of top five people to call when I found I out I was pregnant.
Sometimes, when I do the math, it surprises me that such a large percentage of our friendship has happened from a distance. It has now been over ten years since we’ve lived in the same city and almost seven years since we lived in the same state. It is really one of the sadness of adult life that I realize that no matter where I live, I won’t be living close to someone I love.
E. came to visit me this past weekend and it was exactly what my soul needed. I got to watch my kids fall in love with her (my son bravely tried not to cry when he realized she had gone to the airport before he got home from school. He didn’t quite succeed and my heart about burst) and over many, many cups of coffee we reconnect and talked like we were 22 again. At 37, we don’t talk about apartments or finding love anymore, of course. Now we talk about how to raise kids who are grateful and how to keep a marriage going when you are long past the days of new love and throbbing hormones. We talk about money and sex and whether we have enough of either. We wonder what exactly it was that we did with all our time before we had kids and husbands and mortgages. As we talk I feel the comfort of being seen and known and loved by someone who has known me in all my days from new graduate to new wife to new mom to- what? Are we approaching middle age? Is 37 middle age?
(And if it is, could someone please tell that to the fresh zit on forehead?)
My E. is on a plane right now, heading back home to her own small family. 2000 miles away, I tuck mine into bed and think briefly about all the nights before I had this life when the only person I tucked into bed was myself. I feel my 22 year old self’s sense of loneliness and freedom for a moment and then my son asks for more snuggles and I’m 37 again and missing my friend.