Finding grown-up friends is hard. Way harder than in college, when you're all rather awkward and floundering together, thrown into dorm rooms and campus clubs and intramural sports, living within minutes from friends and frequently making time for dinners out.
You graduate, and your 40 hours of work a week take their toll. You're tired, and your coworkers are all at least 20 years your senior. It's just harder to meet people.
Then, sometimes, there's a glimmer. You meet a friend at random, and she asks if you'd like lunch. It goes well. You friend-date for a while, and next thing you know, you're in book clubs together and planning weekend getaways. (And, miracle of miracles, she loves and appreciates your Monica-like tendencies, your planned craft nights and your color-coordinated barbecues. In fact, she's cut from the same cloth, which means those carefully designed invitations? They're noticed. They're appreciated.) Sure, there are lots of misses along the way -- who said finding kindred spirits was easy work? -- but before you know it, four years have passed, and you've got a handful of friends whom you love and who love you.
I went to Chicago last weekend with a friend I've had in Tallahassee now for as long as I've been married to my husband. Together, we met up with another friend who left for a life in Missouri last year, and we stayed in the home of yet another friend who left Tallahassee for Chicago this summer. What followed were a couple of late nights huddled in a tiny apartment in the city, jeans soaked from rain hanging in the bathroom, take-out boxes on the floor.
We joked that finding even one "someone" you can travel with drama-free is rare; to find three? Practically a miracle. Sure, there were a handful of mishaps: It took us 20 minutes to choose a dinner destination since most of us are only assertive on points of conscience. We had to talk each other into making purchases since none of us are really big shoppers. And when we looked at our watches and realized we had to get ready and dressed for a blues club at 9:00 at night? Well, all four of us introverts (and two of us moms) took a bit of convincing to get out the door having fun.
I didn't travel to Chicago last weekend to see the sights (a good thing, since our trip was mostly rained out). I traveled to Chicago to see my friends, to remind myself I belong somewhere, to realize that having three grown-up friends -- really more, since some weren't on this trip -- is a rarity and a blessing. I traveled to Chicago and remembered that I am one very lucky girl.
And the memory of those few days -- and the gifts that got us there -- is what's saving my life this week.