This is my best friend, Katy. She works a demanding corporate job, has a beautiful four-year old daughter, and a husband, and a dog and a home and a busy family life. I have Mike and our house and dog, but we live a fairly carefree, childless existence and have a lot of late nights, and last-minute social events and vacations that we cram in between our jobs and my extracurricular writing and the twelve sports we train for. Mike and I ski all winter, Kate takes her daughter ice skating or to the library on those cold weekends. I stay up late tippy-tapping on my laptop several nights a week, then float in and out of my contract job as I’m needed, while Kate is at her desk by seven AM every day being the boss of people. Mike and I make our home in the heart of the city; she lives a 40 minute, traffic-infested drive away in suburbia. With our crazy and opposite schedules, it becomes really difficult to see each other on a regular basis. We manage to fit in the occasional drink, and I never miss a Chuck E Cheese birthday celebration for one of my favorite little girls in the world, but our quality time has quickly diminished over the years as we have gone from blithe twenty-somethings to card-carrying members of the responsibility crowd.
Katy is a Catholic Republican; I’m an Agnostic, bed-wetting liberal. She’s an organized logic master; I’m a head-in-the-clouds wanderer. She always says the exact right thing in every situation, and I have my foot in my mouth so often that I’ve actually acquired the taste for it. We miss each other.
Our daily emails are hilarious (if I do say so myself) and fill a small void, and the random days when we can sneak away for a glass of wine, though few and far between, are godsends. A couple hours together is a way of recharging that neither of us can explain. We have our soul mates and life partners at home, and we love and appreciate them with every fiber of our beings, however, we share something that only the two of us understand. There is a Gaelic term, Anam Cara, meaning soul friend. My mother was Irish, and my name is actually the Gaelic word for friend, which is maybe one reason why this term has always resonated with me, but it’s also because it has such a strong meaning behind it. I don’t think there are many times in life when people end up being so close that they truly know your soul. Your spouse, a sibling, maybe a parent, but people from the outside world don’t always get it. Katy gets mine, and I get hers. We will be connected for the rest of our lives.
With Kate there are deep, questioning conversations about life and relationships, and politics and careers and who in the hell we are. Then there are the uncontrollable comedy routines where we feed off each other for hours and end up clutching our stomachs and wiping our tears while those around us wonder what happened that was just so damn funny. I can go to Kate with my most confusing relationship problem or my most petty fashion question and come out on the other side with an answer that I know is honest and in my best interest. There are the times when it is completely unspoken, like Katy silently taking care of all the food and drink at my mom’s funeral reception without being asked because she knew I, drowning in shock and grief, had simply forgotten about it. Or the times when we say it all, even the hard things like “I think you’re making a mistake” and “Are you really happy?” and “How do you really feel?” and even “You’re being ridiculous.” or “Maybe you shouldn’t wear that.” The boys definitely couldn’t get away with all of those. Sometimes, we really dig in deep and get to the core of who we are, and other times, there is the pure and harebrained fun.
It is because of the fun that we came to a consensus about the necessity of an annual trip. We needed a weekend together once a year to get away. Away from the boys, from our separate responsibilities, and even away from town. It would be toward the end of summer or beginning of fall, before the craziness of the holidays starts to take over, which, lately, seems like sometime in early October. It was decided. And we were psyched.
As we embarked on the planning for the inaugural trip (Vail), I was picturing the next 50 years or so, spending a weekend in a different random spot in the country each year and exploring together, all while laughing hysterically and having a few glasses of wine. We would start in our wilder years going out on the town wearing sassy outfits, spend the in-between years hitting the cities with the best museums and bookstores while bitching about our teenagers and how our husbands still seem incapable of taking out the trash after 20 years of training, and finish sometime in our early 80’s when one or both of us had just become too old to travel after last year’s trip to the Bingo World Cup or the Knitting Hall of Fame. Then we would reluctantly hang up our annual tradition and rock in our creaky chairs side by side reminiscing over photos and black coffee at the retirement home. There would be no regrets because we would have seen it all.
This week, after returning from a hilarious weekend in Vegas, our emails were flying back and forth, filled with inside jokes from the trip that I will write about someday if I ever find it possible to recapture the actual outrageousness of it all. At the end of about my third email, I said, “Well, I guess it’s time to start thinking about where we should go next.”
Katy responded back in about three seconds, “Why mess with a perfect thing, Vegas again next year?”
The sparkle, I'm sure, was already dancing in her bright blue eyes, and I immediately knew that the World’s Largest Ball of Twine would have to wait.
Here’s to soul-friends, lifelong laughter, and the best comedy partner a girl could dream of. Here's to weddings where the priest sees my underwear, hockey games when you should never have worn clogs, and curly-headed princesses with adorable, itchy butt cheeks. Here's to dead roots, real pearls, and the great state of Connecticut, all at the same craps table. Here's to five chairs here and three chairs there and two girls who aren't with us. Here’s to the memories and the future craziness of it all. Here's to Vegas, Sass.