“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I have never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” Charlotte replied. “And that in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Due to the nature of my work, I normally don’t get extended time off. I sneak time here and there to spend with family or friends, because usually things change at work rapidly, and I change to move with them. It takes effort to get a few days off, and I’m lucky that those who care about me understand and work around my schedule. But last Thursday morning was a special day. My best friend from California arrived before dawn, and I planned to take a real 1.5 days off plus a whole weekend away in Disney. We’ve been planning our meeting for a few months, as it’s been more than a year since we’ve seen each other in real life, and we’d both been looking forward to a few days together that we knew would go by only too quickly.
We spent Thursday late afternoon at one of my favorite spots in the world on the beach in paradise, listening to the waves, sitting next to each other on the shore, with the musician on stage strumming a song of carefree living, seeing the sunset. Later that evening we watched Toy Story 4 and ate popcorn while we chatted, an activity I actually don’t indulge in often because I usually am reading or writing in my spare time, or just so stressed and exhausted I sit and stare into space on my couch or in the darkness listening to the surf next to the beach, before falling into a fitful sleep. Not that night. My best friend was here!
Friday I had the luxury of a day off and we headed to Disney for 2 days. It was my race weekend and after a cold and miserable 10k on Saturday morning, we hit the parks. My bestie hadn’t been to all the WDW parks (being a Cali girl, her place is Disneyland) and we were able to visit three of four of them over the weekend. Luckily, we snagged last minute fast passes for the best rides in the parks which were packed due to the race weekend. How packed? There was a 65 minute wait for “it’s a small world,” I kid you not. A lovely dessert party in Magic Kingdom with VIP viewing of the Happily Ever After fireworks vied for the “best memory” with riding Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom (the best ride in WDW, hands down), being attacked by an ostrich on the Safari, and a nighttime ride on Seven Drawfs Mine Train. Back to paradise that Sunday evening, with wings and margaritas after sunset at the local sports bar on the beach, and another evening of sharing night time secrets whispered in true slumber party fashion.
Monday we spent the afternoon having lunch and beers on a rooftop bar overlooking the bay in a nearby eclectic beach town with a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere. An art history lecture on Frida Kahlo, a favorite artist of my bestie, souvenir shopping, dinner at an amazing Italian restaraunt, and a beautiful sunset on the pier capped off the day. That night, our last night, I spent doing laundry and packing while we had tea and coffee and talked. (I never did get to make my bestie her favorite whiskey sours at my beach bar, which is probably a good thing, because I don’t know how to make them yet).
All too soon we were headed to the airport on Tuesday afternoon. We were both on the same airline, but her flight left 2 hours before mine. After lunch near her gate, we walked over for my bestie to board her flight back to Cali. After a few hugs, she walked into the boarding line. I waited, but I missed seeing her board because I was on my phone. You may think, what? Your last minutes and you weren’t paying attention? Don’t judge me too harshly, please. Knowing her safely on board, I walked to my gate. As I walked, I texted my bestie that I was sorry I was looking down at my phone and missed waving goodbye. She texted back “I know babe. I miss you already too.” Because it wasn’t that I truly needed to message anyone or check my email or even that I was distracted by social media in that moment. I am terrible at good byes, and the anticipation of missing someone I love sometimes is so unbearable I have to look away and distract myself. Or I will cry. And we all know I never cry, right? I’m the cold, logical scientist. Plus, we all know it ruins my mascara. Who wants to look like a raccoon? Yes. That’s why. Vanity. But mostly it’s because if I let my heart bleed, sometimes it doesn’t stop. It’s not like my best friend was with me to give me a hug and dry my tears, right? But luckily, my best friend knew just why and I didn’t need to explain. Because those are some of the most precious blessings of friendship. Acceptance and unconditional love.