I’ve had the Lazies the past week so you’ll have to forgive me. Well, it wasn’t quite Lazies because, in another area of life, I was working in full speed ahead. Just in another direction. Took all my time. So maybe it was a case of the Distracties. Anyway, back again with this writing thing. 

Tonight I resumed a bad habit I’ve never quite been able to lay to rest: taking pictures of myself on my cell phone and sometimes, sending them to my friends. I would say “Don’t judge me”, but why bother? It’s already happened. But at least let me explain myself. I adore this activity because of the nearly endless hilarity that ensues…for me. Contorting my face into ridiculous distortions and then writing wacky captions for them is all the entertainment I need for a Friday night where the husband opted for a book. Especially when I get to imagine how much joy I’ve brought to someone’s life when my lovely mug shows up in their inbox. “You’re welcome, everybody.”

Taking pictures of myself has history though. As in, it wasn’t just my idea. Two of my very good friends have cried and nearly peed ourselves with giggles, quickly shooting digital portraits of our silly mugs, flipping the camera around to see the results, laughing hysterically, and then assigning our faces another emotion or expression and capturing that, one after the other. First it was Jen in Kansas City, and then a few years later Danielle, in Lawrence. 

Exhibit A:

Caption to Jen: “Just got my first Botox injection. Looking good but I just can’t feel my face.”

My too-much-time-on-her-hands photo shoot yielded at least a few smiles for me, but got me thinking more about the history of friendships, mine to be exact. I’ve got these incredible, deep-down cement friendships with Jazzy, since age 12, and Rachel, since 15, Jen since 17, Ica since 18, and a handful of others I’ve met or reconnected with since then: Ingrid, Danielle, Michelle, Jessica. For most of these women, we were together before boys, after boys, dreaming up husbands and then watching them materialize. {poof} They were in my wedding. I was in theirs. 

Some time in there, the huddle moved outward, south, east, far east in some cases (Ica), or a wee bit west in mine. Anyway, the proximity was less proximal and therefore, the interaction was less frequent.

So much time goes by between face to face these days, weeks, months, even years. There are hundreds of ways to connect – phone, text, Skype, email, facebook – but none of them come close to heads together, hugs, and hysterical laughing fits around coffee or martinis. Those moments, once so frequent, are few but so precious now. 

And when we’re together, we can’t help but remember those days, those nights, the slumber parties, the roommate tales, the stories that I tell one way but she tells another. The night none of us slept when the three of us, Rachel, Ica and I, slept width-wise on the bed and I woke up whining and groaning because I was so frustrated and miserable. They still mock me for this one. And rightfully so – I was just so pathetic.

Or the time Danielle and I tested out how “done” the muffins were by throwing them against the wall like noodles to see if they would stick. 

Or the time Jen and I were on vacation in Colorado and we took pictures of ourselves in front of a mountain scene but when we developed the pictures, the scene behind us was black and we were just sitting there smiling like idiots in front of blackness. We couldn’t handle how hilarious this was, cry-laughing in the grocery store one-hour photo lobby. 

Or when Jazzy and Trotta and I were barely driving legal, only 17, and we went to St. Louis in the middle of the night and had only 9 hours to get there and back and we got a terrible speeding ticket and almost died when one of us feel asleep at the wheel and we had to take all our pictures at 4am in the dark. And then we all had to tell our parents about it when my conscience caved and everybody got in trouble.

And there’s so much more – it’s all just so good. All this history. All this time.

It makes the big long space between the hugs and martinis and side-hurting laughter a little easier. It’s like a giant fast-forward button for the times when we are together again, like we can somehow just press un-pause and start right where we stopped. We use the words and faces on screens and phone calls to fill in the details, but the good stuff happens in real time, although for these girls, I will take what I can get. 

It was really hard for a long time to even think about making new friends, to imagine that there might be any room left over for more deep love and crazy laughter and sleepovers. That the days with new friends would once again add up to months and years, and that these wild stories that were once only about me, would now involve my kids and theirs. But out here in this little college town, I was more alone than I wanted to be, and I had to let the guard back down. And now I have new friends who I take pictures with, and our kids give each other kisses and hugs, learn to walk and talk together, and one of those toddlers might even call me “Mom”, in addition to his own mother. (And he’s not John.) It’s been wild, learning that my heart does in fact expand, and that love is one of those things we don’t run out of, that it does this exponential growth thing instead.

But either way, I’m only 30 years into life so for the women who were girls with me way back then, who have been around for over half of these years, there’s no way to replace this history. The deepness of knowing exactly where she’s coming from, that I know her old address and she knows my mother’s maiden name, and we were both grounded for smoking or speeding or whatever but at least it was together. And she knows what the boys called me when I was 13… to have someone understand what you want to say just because you’ve been here before, a few years ago, to be so known and so loved – I’ll never trade this good-good stuff. And I’m glad I don’t have to, that love adds and doesn’t subtract. Maybe that’s the best stuff. 

A few of the “old” friends through the (recent) ages:

One of those times when I traveled a few hours south to get some face to face with Jen.

Danielle and I will probably always have bad boundaries with noses.

At my before-baby party. Minus but thinking of Ica and missing her badly.

Ica, Rachel and I like hiding behind things. It’s a long-standing tradition. Foliage is our favorite.

Ings and I, looking fab, rocking LBDs and babies in wombs.

Ica’s Bachelorette party with the IRS.

And somehow, the husbands came along too. One by one by one. Which is good, since polygamy is outlawed in the United States.

Husbands who know how to dance.

Husbands who know how to humor their wives with dry wit and – even – getting along with each other.
And Jazzy, on her happy day last year. What a good day. (Also happened to be the day before I went pixie hair.)

I love you all, new friends and old ones. May the years keep adding up for us all.


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