Thursday, February 18, 2010

Magical Moment 14, "Friendiversary"

I sat in a Port Authority Bus Station coffee shop waiting for my bus to arrive. Returning from an audition, I had a half hour to wait for the next bus to take me back to New Jersey. As I sipped my coffee, 2 older ladies took their seat at the table next to me. They were maybe in their 60s, talkative, excited, and very cheerful. I didn’t hear much of their conversation until 2 more ladies joined them and their reunion caused such a joyous spectacle, I couldn’t help but listen.

It was obvious these ladies were close friends and went way back. Two lived in NJ and took the bus in, the other two lived in the city, and today was their first meeting in quite some time. I heard them talk about their families, joke about their wrinkles, and reminisce over shared memories.

Then they pulled from their bags a library of brochures and maps and one lady asked, “So what should we do today?” Another replied, “Maybe we should go to the Met. Or maybe we should go to the Empire State Building. Or maybe we should just go down to Atlantic City and gamble!” That suggestion was met with cheers and laughter. They carefully planned their schedule, making note of each events’ time and location. They even incorporated a lunch break from 12:00-1:30 and called the restaurant to reserve a table. These were some organized friends, serious about having fun together.

Naturally, I thought about my own best friend, Deb. Deb and I have been best friends since 5th grade and are still going strong. We’ve gone from homely, awkward girls in elementary school and junior high to grown-ups with goals and families. But one thing has never changed; whenever we’re together, we have ridiculous amounts of fun. Some people need alcohol to have fun, some need a party full of people to have fun, we just need each other and we have a blast.

Our favorite pastime as roommates in college was watching “America’s Next Top Model” and eating ritz crackers and cheese whiz. Another good time was simply getting in the car and driving down the street while making animal sounds out the window at random strangers. Deb was always good at a goat noise. We went karaoke probably twice a week and country dancing at least once a week. When nobody else wanted to sing or dance, you can bet that Deb and me were up there belting one out or the only 2 people on the floor line dancing (no partner needed to line dance). I’ve never been able to do any of those things since without wishing Deb was with me.

Deb and I are probably closer than a lot of best friends. As grown adults, we shared a bedroom and slept in bunk beds for 2 years. When she and her future husband went on their very first date, guess who tagged along. (We went minnie golfing and Deb and I embarrassed Josh on such a monstrous level, the fact that he wanted to see her again meant he was a keeper.) We’ve been on road trips, we’ve been in each other’s weddings and to each other’s graduations and commissioning, traveled to see each other cheerlead and play soccer, and I even thought about marrying her brother just so we would be related (I decided that might not be the firmest foundation for a marriage, however).

We’ve lived in different states for about 5 years now (wow, just realized how old we are) and I’m amazed at how we’ve been able to stay best friends. I contribute a lot of our success to our friendiversary. Friendiversary is a corny name I made up for our visits to one another. The rules are, it has to be annual at a minimum, and it doesn’t count if one is in town for some other reason (to see family or something). The purpose of the trip has to be to see each other.

Our most recent one was a few months ago when Deb had her second baby. That friendiversary was mainly spent at her home, snowed in, and entertaining her two young children. The one before that was in North Carolina. We spent that one lounging in my pool and being served by Eddie – my built in chef. We’ve already begun planning our next one, maybe this summer in New York City.

Whatever we do, we know that our friendship requires effort from both of us – not only an annual trip, but regular phone calls, texts, and e-mails. And more than anything we want to end up like those ladies I saw at the bus station – still close, still excited to see each other, and still only needing the 2 of us to have a ball. Maybe in 30 years or so, we’ll take another trip for our Friendiversary. Maybe we’ll go to the Met. Maybe we’ll go to the Empire State Building. Or maybe we’ll just go down to Atlantic City and gamble.