“The best mirror is an old friend.”
We all have them, want them, cannot understand them, love them, forgive them, won’t forgive them, treasure them, covet them, trust them…need them. Where would you be without that special friend who will put you back in your place when you’ve strayed too far from the pack or tell you straight to your face ‘au natural works at the gym but what were you thinking coming here looking like that’? We’d be alone (no one to shop with), on time (no one to pick up on the way to the lake house only to spend the first hour of the trip searching for her escape dog), and not as nicely dressed (refer back to alone), that’s where.
I remember my earliest friendship that was so special we stayed in contact long after her family moved away. The old fasioned way with letters and phone calls and sleepovers. She became the country mouse and I the city mouse, our visits continuing through middle and high schools. We lost track of one another as we went off to college, began our careers, families and young adulthood but as I’ve said before, through the benefits of social media, a bond forged in elementary school has resurfaced forty plus years later. This reminds me I must check in to see what’s new with Sue.
As I fondly remember the fun, crazy, unmentionable (a few!) times I shared with Sue my smile broadens remembering the many friends who have graced my life at various moments in time. Who was it who stole that street sign with me so we could send it off with the third angle of our tri to her new home in Florida? You would be the same who shared many a juvenile prank in 9th grade economics at the expense of poor old Ms. Whatshername. You were also the same who exchanged secret notes in high school about who likes who when we should have been learning government who’s who. You are the same Best Friend who sent me the wonderful letter detailing your warm memories of my mom when she passed away. I wear your words like a sweater on a winter’s day when I finger through the box of cards marking that time in my life.
As I entered college my two burrito eating besties and I were inseparable. At a time when we truly needed to focus on school and our studies, we managed to fit in many memorable extracurricular activities that kept us laughing when we were able to meet and reminisce a few years back here in C’ville. Happily, we’ve given up the midnight burritos and look fabulous as a result!
As I graduated from college I left with two other amazing ladies who are present in my life today. We know each other’s husbands (ex’s and oh’s!), children, jobs come and gone, old and new homes, triumphs and heart breaks. We’ve shared three lifetimes with each other over the course of the same weekend, each year, designated as our girl’s Beach Weekend. This is a gift that was bestowed upon us many, many years ago by our husbands (at the time) and children (born at the time) who watched us drive away for four days and three nights of uncensored and unhinged eating and drinking girlfriend time. That was 17 years ago and out of necessity, love and sheer ‘we need a friggin’ break!’, our tradition lives on!
I would be remiss if I didn’t share the story of a memorable shopping trip with my dear friend and sister from a different mother (we are often assumed to be so when in public, among other things) Ms. Mills. The two of us have comparable taste in housewares and furnishings, colors and clothing. Imagine my surprise when the following was said as I admired myself in a mirror wearing a jacket I found in a sweet little boutique in Carytown, a quaint shopping district in RVA.
“Uhh, uhh.” She said while quickly shaking her head.
“Really?” I replied in disbelief and a bit deflated.
“You don’t want that jacket no matter how on sale it is!”
The sideward nod of her head and the cutting look in her eyes all but said, ‘Honey, you don’t look as though you’ve been shopping in Carytown but drug through Carytown’. As I opened my mouth to argue, Ms. Mills was moving on to the jewelry case. I silently removed the jacket, hung it up and left the boutique. I have now come full circle as to why it is important to shop with girlfriends.
There are countless memories that I recall dearly, reminding me that there is no one single best friend but a continuous thread of many great friends who I’ve held close at important points in time. Each thread has blended into the fabric forming the cloak I adorn each day giving me security, strength and of course lasting friendships. It is with gratitude I count the many amazing ladies who have (and continue to) entered my life, made their lasting impressions and then, never really left, just wandered off to do her own thing. I know we will reconnect at some point, best friends make this happen.
As I end here I think of each of you. Wherever you are I hope I am part of your journey, a colorful thread in your amazing wonder woman cape, one of many best friends at your back.