This was never a hopeless place.


You asked if we could go for a walk because you had something to give me.

We were the last two standing in the living room. Whatever mascara left on my face was huddled in the corners of my eyelids, clutching to the last few lashes it could find. I didn’t even nod my head to tell you yes before we were walking out the door and charging down the street, as if we knew the directions we were going in.

“I hate goodbyes,” I told you.

“I hate them too,” you whispered back into the dark. “It’s like I wish I were a octupus and I could keep everyone all in one place.” I guess it doesn’t work that way. No, I guess it really doesn’t.

Originally it was going to be your life and my life, packed and tangled and sitting in two cars as we drove down the highway with our arms hanging out with the window, letting the wind pursue the gaps in our fingers. And then suddenly—swiftly— it was just my car getting packed. And just my life getting thrown into boxes. And it was just me, surrounded by all our best friends, as everyone told me goodbye. You watched from the corner with tears in your eyes and I almost wanted to point at you and announce to the whole room, “It rips us the most.” Everyone probably knew that already though; it’s just that no one said anything.

So on that last night, before life changed for good, we went walking down the street and we left our cars parked in the road. And we didn’t talk at all about the lesson life thrusted upon the both of us when we found out you would stay and I would go: there are no such things as hopeless places. People just don’t deep enough to find the hope surrounding them.

We stopped at a playground and you figured the gate would be locked. Lucky for us, it wasn’t. We toured the playground saying nothing and touched our hands to the spring rider ladybugs and slides and seesaws, looking for a place to sit and face one another. We chose a bench and you started to cry.

“Ever since we became friends, all this stuff is always coming out of my eyes,” you laughed. “It’s all your fault.”

I couldn’t argue with that. I am the hurricane and you are the rock. I cry over things that haven’t happened yet. Milk that hasn’t spilt yet. I always used to wonder what made you a rock. I still wonder that: what made you a rock? What made you so solid that you never tipped or wavered or acted like the world could hurt you until me?

“I think I’ve cried too much tonight,” I told you. “I don’t think there are anymore tears left for me.”

Just an hour earlier, I’d been heaving and huffing while people took turns to pray for me. And I wished I could reach up my hands and tell them to stop. I wish that would have been okay to say that when they placed their hands on my shoulders or my lap, like, “Please don’t touch me if you plan to let me go. Can’t you just tell me I need to stay here forever?”

If someone had told me that— that I couldn’t go anywhere, that I had to stay right here— I might have listened. I might have unpacked my car. I might have deleted the playlist that would take me 16 hours south. I might have just pretended that all of it had been crazy— the feeling I was supposed to leave, go, pick up, walk away, start over, rebuild, and all the like.

“It’s your card,” you told me. “But I am going to read it to you.”

You ripped the thing out from the envelope and suddenly I was wrong. I started crying. You cried more. It was in that moment, waiting for you to say something, that I realized suitcases were never about the lace you’d pack or the jeans you’d fold to fit inside. Suitcases were just a bad invention thought up by an inconsiderate inventor who probably never wondered how many people would try to find a way to wedge someone they loved inside of that small space with the latch on the side. I pictured closing you up in that suitcase and releasing you free when we got to where we were going, laughing at the world and saying, “Ha! Ha! Ha! You couldn’t keep us apart.”

Was it okay that I was mad at the world as you spoke? I was so freaking angry with the world, or life, or God, or whatever thing it is that lets two people meet and then pulls them apart. We were young. We didn’t get it yet. We didn’t know that life was just a series of letting go moments. And we wouldn’t learn, for at least another month, that sometimes letting someone go is the best present you can give them. The two of you don’t even know that you’re looking for a gift. The two of you don’t know that sometimes it’s the geography, the shift in the trees and the people, that will break a person out of the cocoon of their past and finally let the word “free” go out from their lungs. Sometimes maps are giant, colored permission slips to be someone you never allowed yourself to be.

You read the card out loud to me and you gave me a feather to hold in your hand. You’d found the feather just before. Long and skinny, it had once been very lucky to be tucked into the wings of such a pretty bird. And you didn’t know, because I didn’t tell you, but I’d written words in my diary earlier that made so much sense to me as I held that feather in my hands: I am ready to leave this place. I lost everything I needed to after that broken heart came sweeping through. It came right off of me like feathers fall off the wings of the birds that are finally flying southward bound for home. So yes, the feather meant something more to me, even if you only wanted to tell me that I was gonna fly.

As you read, you cried and thanked me. You thanked me for being something I never knew I was: someone who would always choose dreams over money, and freedom over fear. Someone who wanted the late night diner trips. And the lack of bedtime. And the good stories and the good people and the good church services that don’t make you feel scraped clean at the end of them, they make you feel alive and thankful that God made you with a fire that doesn’t dim so easily.

In that moment as you read to me, and I held that feather, I was suddenly the girl I always wanted to be: someone who had no interest any longer in being the girl on fire. She’d much rather set the world on fire with all the quiet and beautiful things she did.

In the last of your sentences, you told me to go. And this time, when you said it, the word looked nothing like “stay.” And I was suddenly so thankful you told me to go. Because no matter what you’ve ever told me, I have always listened and trusted you to be right.

We walked away from that night. 

I didn’t look at you from the window of my car because I didn’t want to see you crying. God, I hate goodbyes and I hate reliving goodbyes after they’re gone. And I turned on the radio and did what I’d done since I was thirteen years old, pretending whatever song came on the radio would be like a fortune cookie– predicting what would happen next. I turned the dial. Closed my eyes. And Rihanna poured into car.

We found love in a hopeless place. We found love in a hope-less place.

The song was irrelevant. I turned off the radio and started to drive.

I whispered into the night the things I didn’t say to you when I had the chance, when you were right beside me on that bench: “I believe in you. I always have and I always will. You’re capable. You’re good enough. You said so yourself, you wanted to be a bird. So memorize the separating factor between birds and all the other things: they figure out how to fly and then they stop imagining what life looks like when you touch the ground.

So be a bird. Be a bird. Some of us are fit to fly. You told me that yourself. And some of us will harbor broken hearts for an entire lifetime all because we never gave those wings a chance. Don’t be that broken bird.”

The car kept turning down familiar roads and I laughed to myself. Just the next day I’d have to use a map to get anywhere. It would change just like that. I turned the radio back on and Rihanna was still there.

I laughed again. We found all the hope. This was never a hopeless place.

If I said there was something more… would you believe me, girl?


Sometimes I wish you could be my Polly Pocket.

Not my blog reader, not my friend, but my Polly Pocket. I wish you could be less than an inch tall so that I could carry you with me always and you could see the world beside me and we could talk deep into midnight about all the things our little sockets of hazel and blue saw that day. And then we could wake up and do it all over again. You, and me, and your cute little plastic outfits.

I’d be so good to you if you were mine.

I would’ve propped you up on the dashboard of my car and let you man the Spotify stations as we drove and drove and drove until we lost track of the roads and street lights. I would have given you fresh Tennessee air. I would have let you nearly drown in a glorious vat of sweet tea. I would’ve sat you straight on the railing of a boat as we cruised out to the center of a lake in Northern Georgia and watched fireworks shoot up in the air. Together, we would have celebrated freedom and the summer air.

You’d get to watch the world with me. You’d see the wrinkles, and hear the stories, and I’d never have to tell you anything you didn’t already know. If you were always with me, we could process every bit of this confusing, wild thing in the flesh while we layed beneath a blanket of stars and tried whispering to a God who is both a knitter and a maker.

There is 860 miles between you and I that I don’t know how to tell you about.

It’s as if I traveled far away and came back different and I’m forced to try to explain to you this new skin I am standing in. I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know where to begin. The experience feels too ripe to pluck just yet. It’s all still resting in single words that have yet to meet their sentencey soul mates: Goodness. Hospitality. Home. Sanctuary. Rest. Laughter. Chik-Fil-A. Peace. Rain. Contentment.

Before this, the first instinct was to share and share and share. And overshare. And add a filter to that. And nail the right angle with that. And to announce to the world that I am having a good time, and that I wish you were here, and too bad you’re not, but I am having a good time anyway.

And then life happens. And people get real. And stories get shared. And secrets get told. And hands get held. And tears get shed. And we all realize the thing we knew ten years ago in the middle of our gadgetless little existence– it was never about the networks. It was never about the followers. It was never about the approval of where you were and what you were doing or who you were with. But it was always about the relationships you could foster in the flesh far more than a fluid invitation into every moment that looked filtered, and pretty, and perfect on the screen.


“If I told you to pull back… if I said there was something more… would you believe me, girl?”

It’s almost like I could hear God speaking that single question into my ear over & over again as I soaked in the southern hospitality that only comes from people who learn to care about you before you ever even walk through their door. You’ve been a living prayer to them all along. You’ve rested heavy on their hearts for all eternity and a day. ( And yes, God sounds very much like the memes of Ryan Gosling in this moment but we can analyze that strangeness some other day.)

But I can feel Him pushing me. Pushing me to pull back into relationships that hold me together at the seams in a way I’ve grown nostalgic for. The kinds of relationships I don’t want to clutter or talk about too loudly. I want them to stay simple and true because that is the way they’ve always been to me. The kind of people who I keep in my grip because I am admittedly so, so afraid, in a partially unexplainable way, that if I look away they’ll be gone. I won’t have them any longer. I’ll be grabbing for dust.

The kind of people who take me for who I am and never ask me to be different. Because who I was yesterday was good enough always.

If it takes unplugging, and escaping, and driving down the coast to Somewhere Else for me to get back intact with that then it’s probably, certainly something I should have never lost to begin with. It’s probably really important. It’s probably something I should always keep in my eye’s view so that it never gets misplaced for too long.

Admitting that is a starting point. It ain’t no cut-me-a-piece-of-cake-and-call-it-easy-sauce alteration. It’s not the flicking of the light switch. It’s not the waking up different tomorrow. It’s a slow and steady process. It’s weeding things out of your life to keep and make room for others you hope will arrive soon. It’s shutting off more. It’s stepping back more. It’s being present more in a way that hurts when you can’t turn to the screen for comfort and escape.

It’s not pretty. It’s not sensical. But it’s like reaching the end of the yellow brick road, pulling back the curtain, and realizing Oz ain’t it. He just ain’t it. And yet you’ve been given the chance to click those ruby reds and start over again… you came this far,  it’s not too late to start over again, girl.

They came back. For girlfriends who know the Distance like shoe sizes & salaries.

They sat in oversized arm chairs and talked about the Distance as it if were the 5th person in the room.

As if each one of them had felt the Distance curling close. As if they all had sat beside the Distance once or twice that month and watched it grow restless–switch, unswitch its legs— before it finally sighed and said, “Will you pour the cider or will it be me?”

They were growing. Changing. Moved into a season of chaos & clutter & Grownup Things and just trying to keep up with the curveballs this Babe Ruth of a Life had been known to throw.

There were salaries now.

Events with RSVP’s hitched to the bottom. Benefits– whatever that truly meant to  girls who just wanted to buy a good pair of heels and a salmon dinner.

There were bills arriving all the time. Less & less the mailbox was a place for surprise & serendipity; the mailman ousted from the “tooth fairy status” he held when it came Christmastime and the toy catalogs began pouring in.

There were obligations. And invitations. And all the “ations” it takes to make a girl grab her beach towel and head fleeting for the cape.  There was laundry to fold. Lunches to be prepped. Time slots to be handled like eggs on the stove. Careful not to burnout, careful not to overload.

There were calories. Suddenly, calories– poking out from the folds of tin foiled packaging– meaning something more mammoth than ever before as metabolisms grew slower than old men in velour. Dresses to fit into. Workouts to uphold. And nights to just say “screw it” and pour another glass.

There was life.

& the truth that it was quicker these days. & harder, much harder, to catch the good fistfuls of it. Like golden locks. Like clumps of sand closer to the water, perfect for sculpting the sand castles-turned-mansions by sunset.

There was the life & the fact that lived above it all–above the calories, the salaries, the RSVP’s & VIPs: No matter the Distance that curled at their feet, they never stopped holding this one prayer high, “Please keep them safe until I see them again.”

That was friendship.

Stripped off from school & college & clubs. That was friendship. Minus the solo cups and too tiny crop tops and foolish mistakes turned rich with laughter by the morning. That was friendship. When the overtime flooded in & babies started crying & foreign lands began cooing to the ones who had the Traveler’s Itch.

That was friendship to a group for girls who needed no explanation, no starting line, no rolling of the dice to indicate who would go first when they finally folded into one another again.

They came back. Carrying stories, they came back. Carrying stories like wise men from the east, they came back. Unearthing tales from the time capsules they buried in their own hearts until a time such as this. Unfolding & unfurling & every kind of “un” when it came to the conversations they’d snipped short like pixie haircuts just one week before, left as cliffhanger with the classic text message, “You have to hear this in person.”

They came back– from every angle of the map– with all the space & gaps & gap-toothed boys that filled the time slots less precious than this one.  The chance to be girls. Just girls again. In a world that made them executives & teachers & writers & auditors. Just girls with tales of the boys they’d loved. The lives so busy they’d forgotten to dream. & the pieces that had broken off between “the time I saw you last.”

Always & always, the girlfriends came back. For the edging out. The sorting out. The pulling apart the mess from the sane like the stray red sock snuck deep into the pile of whites upon whites. That’s what girlfriends were for. They came back, knowing more of this & that but never closing in on the questions they all ached to answer: who would go next. & why. When would this distance end. & how. When would friendship not be held to pinpoints on the map. & when would “together again” reach them after that night.

They came back, knowing nothing but a single prayer they’d learnt to whisper in an endless way, ” Please keep them safe until I see them again.”



Finders and Weepers but never the Keepers.

I don’t often find the words for you. But when I find them, I always want to keep them.

“We will map it out in the sand,” the Girl with the Curls said to her Most Precious Friend.

“That way we will never forget it, that we are coming back to one another.”

The Girl with the Curls All Up in Her Hair was a bit older in years. She’d seen more stretch of the earth. She’d touched more tops of fingertips. She knew the good that could somehow live in a word as strange as “goodbye.”

She patted the ground for her Most Gracious Friend to come and sit down beside her. And then she began to clear away the rocks to make for a space, a map that would mean Together during a time of Apart.

“This is where I will be,” said the Girl with the Curls, tracing a circle out in the sand. “I will always be here and you can always find me here.”

She set on clearing a space several feet away, “And here is where….”

“There,” said the Girl with the Curls’ Most Lovely Friend, pointing back at the newly traced circle. “There is where I want to always be.”

“But we…”


“I know it would be eas…”

There.” Her finger grew relentless with its pointing. “There or here. Whichever one keeps me with you.”

The Girl with the Curls had no answers. No answers for why, one day, she wouldn’t smell the lavender in the hair of her Best Friend or how she’d have to call upon her memory to play back the sound of a laughter she used to marry with her own percussion of giggles.

And so she said nothing. Not Much. And she let the Hunger for Words & Goodbyeless Goodbyes fill the air, thick like the humidity of August that calls curls to go untamed and motherless.

The two girls sat in the sand and stared at the circle for a very long while. They sat still & quiet until the stars had no choice but to join them, resolving to shine their brightest on this Night for Girls who were Never Good with Letting Go.

“It will come one day. One day we won’t be sitting here beside one another. It’s just the way it has to be,” the Girls with the Curls finally spoke, laying her head down to see the whole sky. Her curls splayed and spiraled across the parts of the map that hadn’t been drawn yet.

“But why?” asked her Most Sacred Friend.

The Girl with the Curls just nodded her head in Unknowing. And her Most Real Friend stared and let the whistles of silence out from her lips.

For they both had learned the hearts of one another—all the curves and spots of wear—as if they  old watercolors perched up on the mantel of a hallway from childhood. They’d learned each other in an easy way, in moments as slow and wonderful as the whispered names of French sugared sweets. Savarin & Souffle. Tartin & Brulee.  The two girls marveled at how it was never a thing that took effort or angst. They had simply found one another at a time when all they craved were open books and a Someone to sit beside when the world rocked crazy. A Someone to sit beside and find your whole self understood in a world that rarely leaves room for Understanding to take off her shoes.  That was the best thing they could have. They knew it in conversation & secrets & nights of tea with three lumps of sugar. It was the best thing they could have.

“I’ve never really known but it’s a thing called Growing Up,” said the Girl with the Curls to her Most Radiant Friend. “I think it’s probably beautiful but awkward and silly at times, with just pinches of pain to remind you of Aliveness.”

 Because that is how most things are: beautiful but awkward and silly at times, with just pinches of pain to remind us of Aliveness.

“But we can’t do it together? I want to be Growing Up with you. Not without you… I don’t want a reason to draw maps in the sand.”

The Girl with the Curls heard the stinging in the voice of her Most True Friend. She didn’t have reasons. She didn’t have answers. And she, also, never wished for Growing Up without her Best Friend beside her, Growing Up too.

“You know,” she finally spoke. “We could be Artists & Weepers. Dreamers & Dancers. We could own the stars if we wanted to. We could climb mountains and let the salt waters of the ocean pucker up to our ankles. We could be Explorers. & Finders. & Lovers. But I know we cannot be Keepers. A Carrier, maybe, but never a Keeper.”

“But why? What is the difference?”

“A Keeper would mean that we stayed here. And we never moved. And we held each other’s hands too tightly. And we never saw the world.

And you never became You and I never found Me in the spaces of this place where we were supposed to Be.”

For the Girl with the Curls had no answers. No connect the dot reasons. But she knew she could never be a Keeper, no matter how badly the urge tickled at her. To keep her Most Gifted Friend all to herself would only lead to a lifetime of picking Regret up by the armpits and spinning her round & round.

The world needed a Best Friend like hers. Strangers needed her. The sick needed her. The lonely needed her. And how does one become a Finder if they always stay a Keeper?

“Carry,” said the Girl with the Curls, to fill the spaces in the air left for Sadness & Sorrow & I’ll Miss You & Take Care. “I can be a Carrier. I promise I will be. I’ll carry you wherever I go.”

“Really?” said her Most Sacred Friend.

“I’ve already started,” the Girl with the Curls bit back more words.

She’d already started: The Letting Go. The Packing. The Looking Backward for a moment or two. The Finding but not the Keeping. And the Carrying. The Always Carrying the Heart of her Best Friend.”

Have yourself a Merry Little Living Room.

I realized then, in that Living Room that only existed for Five Nights of Six Girls’ Lives Somewhere Square in the Season of Giving, that if you find something inside of yourself that can be given to make another fly when you are no longer there to compare wings, then you give it.

“It was two years ago.

Can you believe it?”

Her message pops up on the screen, the corners of the chat box cutting into the layers of ugly Christmas sweater images sitting in my newsfeed.

“The Living Room,” I type.

I know she is talking about the Living Room. I know it will lead into a conversation that will be both good and bad. Both the tangs of sweet and bitter. We’ve never felt anything like those five days. It has not been the same since. She knows it. I know it.

You don’t know how this blog started. Not a single one of you. And if you did, you would realize that it was all one big, giant accident. Two years in the making and it all started with an accident. This blog only exists because two arm chairs, a tangle of tree lights, a battery-powered candle,  five other girls and a Living Room existed first.  

The five of them might be reading this right now and if they are then I want to make sure they hear this: To the girl in an office space in Boston: I am lucky to know you; I wish I told you that more often. To the girl curled up in the campus center with a coffee in her hand, waiting for the next campus meeting: Dinner last weekend wasn’t enough to get out how much I miss you these days. To the ambitious young lady scrolling through this post on her BlackBerry as she gives herself a break from the law school text books: I am your biggest fan because you’ve always been mine. And to the two world shakers, sitting side by side in Kansas City: I could not be more proud of you.

It started Two years ago Today with just Two of us sitting in Two oversized arm chairs, probably at Two in the afternoon. We decided to maneuver the beastly chairs into the middle of our campus center’s stage, sit them around a fake Christmas tree that breathed a sense of Home for the Holidays into the both of us with its pretty little plastic limbs. Any college student knows that it is important to claw and clutch these moments where the holiday season miraculously shows up amidst a chaotic cluster of final papers and tests.

We came back to the two arm chairs and the tree later that night. Another one joined us.

Three Arm Chairs. Two 12-Page Papers. One Tree. And we decided to call it our Living Room.

Another night. Two more girls joined us.

Five Book Bags. Four Arm Chairs. Three Laptops. Two 12-Page Papers. One Tree.

And one battery-powered candle that provided us with flicker of fake glow with one flick of a switch. We roared in laughter over that candle. Oh, how it glowed. We figured that a Living Room needed pictures, so we brought frames. And a candy bowl. What is a living room without a candy bowl?

The last girl tapped in. She demanded a kitchen. She studied better in Kitchens than Living Rooms. So we extended our Living Room and added a table and chairs.

Eight Red Cups. Seven Leftover Brownies. Six Girls. Five Book Bags. Four Arm Chairs. Three Laptops. Two (still not done) 12-Page Papers. One Tree.

Six girls, headphones plugged into their computers, all humming to a different tune but consciously inching closer and taking turns in pointing out that it might never be this way again. One would head for Rome. Another for Prague. One would graduate. They pointed out the hard stuff: that it would never be this way again.

And they were right. Never since then have the six of them shared a single space where the laughter is just the right amount of Heavy and their dreams sing loud enough, above the Christmas carols, just how true they planned to become one day.

At the time, I had this WordPress page and two blog posts. Already, I hated blogging. The whole thought of it scratched at the back of my neck like a tag left carelessly on the shirt collar. Until one of our nights of endless studying in the Living Room, one of the girls started to ache. Her heart swelled. She needed something beyond  a life chat or a hug, a reminder that she’d be ok. I remember walking away from the Living Room that night, plugging my computer into the wall and soaking in the silence as I played with words like cold broccoli and wrote to her. Tap,tap,tap & Publish. I remember thinking: there is so much that we cannot give to one another but I suppose there is trying.

This blog was born out of that Living Room. That Try. That Give. That realization that I never wanted a space for me if I could find a way to make it about someone else. And from it I’ve learned that our lives might never be so much about ourselves as they are about the people who sit beside us. Who Round Our Dinner Table. Who Call Us First, After We’ve Hammered Our Pain into a Text Message. The ringer on our phone goes off and already we can hear them saying, I don’t care if you are sobbing, just speak.

I realized then, in that Living Room that only existed for Five Nights of Six Girls’ Lives Somewhere Square in the Season of Giving, that if you find something inside of yourself that can be given to make another fly when you are no longer there to compare wings, then you give it. That, while you sit in a moment as pristine as the seconds after all the flakes have settled to the bottom of the snow globe in your hands, that we really don’t get any kind of Forever with One Another. We get Chances. We get Moments. We get Raw Opportunities. We get Doors Wide Open. We get Unforgettable. But we don’t get Forever’s. Never. Ever. If we knew that now, and if we remembered every time we found our feet standing beside someone we wish the world for, what would we give? How would we give? Would it be everything? Would it be more than we could ever imagine?

Some days I think about it, how I’d give anything to go back there to the Living Room to the Six Girls Who Made It Home, to thank them all for giving me this starting thread in a tapestry that has mended hearts, inspired others, and Grew Me Up  in the best way possible.

I know I’d have given more if I really stopped to think about the Forever that would escape us all in the moment, slip from our fingers like the holiday season. I know I’d have said it more: I love you but I’ll never keep you here, far away from flying. But promise to turn back sometimes and tell me how you’re soaring.

I’d bring you sugar. You could borrow flour.

I am willing to travel across the country to show up at your door and tell you this: I’ve got camping gear.

Yes, that’s right. Camping Gear.

I know I have it somewhere cramped up in the attic. Wedged between a few lawn reindeer and some worthless pieces of junk that my father insists on classifying as antiques.

A tent. Two sleeping bags. That’s all we need right?

Can I have five minutes? I just need five minutes to find the dumb camping gear.

You are shaking your head. Like that won’t do? Like we cant pitch a tent somewhere between my backyard and yours and, for once, let Distance slip away before your hand slips from mine?

Target then. There is a Target right down the road. We could pile into the car right this second and be there before that little hand on your watch even laps the bigger one twice.

An air mattress. We’ll buy one. Blow that sucker up. I’ll even let you take the bed and I’ll sleep on the floor. Does that sound better than the camping gear?

Please don’t turn. Don’t walk away just yet. I have other ideas. Jeepers, I’ve been filling notebooks with all sorts of ideas.

You’re saying it won’t do any good to hear them. I know that. But could we just pretend for a moment that it might do us some good? That we might be capable of sticking our heads together and coming up with an excellent plan where Miles and Stones and Milestones wouldn’t get between us.

You know, it’s really easy to tap out how much I miss you over the phone. Tap. Tap. Tap. Done.

But I need 140 characters and then some kind of eternity to show you how it feels to know I won’t be seeing you soon. That it’s already been too long. I don’t think I like it very much, saying those kinds of things.

I. Won’t. Be. Seeing. You. Soon. It feels all kinds of awful rolling off the tongue.

This whole growing up thing, I don’t know how much I like that either. It would probably be easier, better, if the automobile had never been invented. Or buses. Or trains. Or any kind of thing that left us gripping a map and going separate ways.

Or cellphones. Or pens to write letters. Or stamps to mail them with. Or any kind of method that left us staying in touch without the touching.

If we never got the crazy idea that life would be bearable on different sides of the country or in separate parts of the world. That’d we’d be ok as pen pals or friends who only see each other once in a while. I’ll warn you right now: the Once shows up a lot more than the While. I’ve been waiting for you by the door.

I mean, Boston is pretty on you. You make Chicago look damn good. You wear San Diego like a scarf.  And I’m just a girl who got New York to coo in her ear louder than any other set of skyscrapers but I’m still not over the fact that we cannot just smack the cities together and play neighbors for a while.

I’d bring you sugar. You could borrow flour.

And we could stop talking about Growing Up as if he were a Lover, a tall and handsome Lover, who’s already broken our hearts six thousand times and yet we are still crawling back to try it out again.

You know, there are certain bones within me that want to see you fly, and find my wings too. And then there are other bones, the not so funny bones, that wish you and I could just find some moment to call our own.

A moment where we wouldn’t be leaving. Or walking. Or thinking at all.

No going. No planning. No growing at all.

It wouldn’t need to last long. A few seconds or so. Just long enough to believe that one day we’ll stop scratching this itch that tears the “You” from the “Me” and find ourselves sitting on some front porch with sweet tea in our hands saying things like this.

It was good to see the world. The Whole Wide World. We learned quite a lot, wouldn’t you agree? From all those Miles and Stones and Milestones between us. But look, look, we have finally found an Us and I don’t want to see it go.  Us. It tastes sweet, sweeter than anything I’ve tasted in a while. It tastes like some kind of tomorrow that I’ve been looking for.

So I’ll tell you one more time, I’ve got camping gear somewhere in my attic. It should  only take me five minutes to find it.

And they were lucky girls, lucky to have one another in a life made for singing about bicycles built for two.

Kathleen & Dee

“Do you feel like switching today?” she asks me.

“No Duhhhhh. I always feel like switching, Silly.”

Together we reach our hands over each other’s heads and pull off the imaginary helmets of hair, like oxygen-starved astronauts devouring air for the first time.  She gets my red curly locks and I get her blonde braids for 60 glorious minutes.

That One Luscious Hour, after math problems but before lunchtime, was an epic chance to let down my two, imaginary Barbie blonde braids and swing them round and round, living out my 1/64th Native American heritage on the school blacktop.

That’s how she and I became best friends; the closest thing to sisters without the blood or cousins. Eighteen years of friendship woven since that very first hair swap. Since

Corey & I

we both first realized we could escape the world and what it was and the way it worked through one another.

The memory does a nostalgic little rain dance in my head as we sit across from one another. Newly 23, beautiful and no longer swapping hair styles during the coveted hour we’ve managed to uncover within a tangle of fulltime jobs and final exams; some would say we’ve moved onto more grown up trades: stories, jokes, qualms, and advice. All still just as knotted as my hair back in those days. Still just as silky and gold as her fine, fine braids.

Friendship. I can tell you that the definition sits on my kitchen wall, cropped and comfortable within the confines of a 4×6 frame. The black and white photo is a picture of my mother’s Aunt Kathleen and my own grandmother, Dee. The two of them were best friends. Inseparable. Passing away within one year of each other.

And while I assumed they were tied together so fiercely by their Irish roots, Dee always being the one to don a sequined green beret and fill her lungs with Irish proverbs, it turns out my Grandma was not a stitch of Irish. For that reason alone, the other girls shunned her. A Bright-Eyed German Girl with no friends just because of her nationality, growing up in a Big City that would one day mature into a Brewing Pot for the Irish, German, Mexicans, English, Vietnamese & Dominican population. Spades, Aces, Clubs & Hearts all leaning against one another in a House of Cards.

But Kathleen swooped in and swept Irish from the requirements of her friendship with Dee to create a bond between the two of them that lasted all their lives. And they were lucky girls, lucky to have one another in a life made for singing about bicycles built for two.

Sadly, I don’t know much about Kathleen. I don’t know whether she stood her ground and told those mean girls off, or whether she silently linked her arm within my grandmother’s and showed her first how to walk in the other direction. Regardless, I still believe she might’ve been a lot like my best friend, teaching me to stand up for myself without ever being a stitch of sorry for taking up space in this world.

She’s my Yellow, I would tell anyone about my best friend. She is absolutely my Yellow in the way that Kathleen was Dee’s Blue. The world would spin just fine without Yellow or Blue but it is so much brighter with those hues added in. Yellow in laughter. In Jokes. In talking as the sun goes down. In still talking when it rises up again. In the way a best friend knows your heart is breaking before you even hear the first crack. In the way she is a fellow artist, painting the mural of “Growing Up” alongside you, a mess of Gold and Silver Paint that crawls the walls of buildings you’ve both known since childhood.

In the way you sometimes part but manage to keep folding paper cranes out of the rich papers of Missing You and Needing You and Praying for You. Every Night. No matter the multitude of prayers spilling over into the lap. Your name. Always there. Without Doubt. An asterisk beside it.

The questions of a 20-something—Why am I here? And what do I do next? And was this the right move?—sit silent for the sacred hour that finds she and I in the same place. Sits Silent in the Name of Friendship. Suddenly there are no worries. No need to tap it out to the galaxy: LOL. Because we’re really sitting right there, kicking our sandals up and Laughing Out Loud over the way things used to be when we were chronic Curly Lock Swappers. No other places to be. No need to look down at our feet to make sure they are still planted into the ground. There’s just my best friend; the keeper of my stories and the secrets that left us linking pinkies. Promising never to tell.