Tonight my best friend and I celebrated 20 years of friendship with good food, amazing cake, tasty drinks and a crowd of friends.
I met Sarah in the back of a moving van twenty years ago this week. “Who are you?” I said as I wandered into the back of the van. “Who are you?” she answered. “This is my moving van.”
We spent an idyllic afternoon together, which ended with the Grapefruit Challenge. I invited her back to my house and offered her a drink.
“You don’t have what I want,” she said.
As luck had it, grapefruit juice was about the only thing in our fridge, and we’ve been friends ever since. Of course, she was in the middle of packing that moving van to move away from the neighborhood I had just that week moved into. The first several years of our friendship were carried out at a distance, no easy feat when you’re 11 and 12. I liked her so much I joined the math team so I could see her at math meets. That’s love, baby.
For a few years we lived in the same town, and I could bike to her house. Then more separation, by college and continents, for about ten years, during which we visited and talked on phones and wrote e-mails and generally worked at staying close from far away.
And here we are, all grown up 20 years later. We live in the same town. I bike to her house. Tonight we shared a glass of grapefruit juice and a lot of memories. Before the party, we went for a drive up to the little town where we went to high school together, and walked on the beach. We talked about the past, in ways that felt important and new as well as nostalgic. And we talked about today: her pregnancy, my kids. Our partners and their jobs and the work we do together as Witches. We talked about her academic career and my writing. We exchanged tips about food and shared a few moments of philosophical outrage about gender politics around birth and motherhood.
We were on the beach in the rain, standing in the waves with an umbrella. She told me about going canoeing with her dad, and the misadventures they had. It was a funny story about a scary thing. I heard a lot of my own voice in it, and the things that are only hers – her sense of humor, her play with words, her real fear and her love for her dad. I’ll never get tired of hearing that voice.
Which is to say, she’s still my best friend. It took us twenty years to come to today, to that walk on the beach. At the party we had that twenty years on display in cute collages and photo albums and notes we passed in school back in the day. But what’s really precious to me was the walk on the beach, and the evening I’ll spend with her next Sunday. This is where we live now, in the world of babies and bicycles and better hair. More than our past, I’m immensely grateful that we have this present. I’m looking forward to another 20 years of discovering who this strange girl in the back of the truck really is.