We met at Chili’s. I was a hotshot trainer, which is short for college-student-the-management-manipulates-extra-work-out-of-without-extra-pay, and there were a couple of new trainees naively wearing white for their first shift among the salsa and guacamole. It took only a few shifts together for us to become inseparable; there’s nothing like pico de gallo under the fingernails to cement a relationship.
That was almost 17 years ago. Since then there have been degrees, graduations, apartments, houses, children, moves across countries and oceans. We have become less self-conscious and more eco-conscious. There are piles of discarded pretensions trailing in our wake.
I am not talking about my husband. My husband is wonderful, but he knows nothing about tampons, and there are times that just call for a best friend. A girlfriend. For years, I strongly suspected she was too good for me. Now I know it, but it has ceased to matter. I won’t tell her if you won’t.
I miss the days when she lived four blocks away and I came over every Wednesday for Beverly Hills, 90210. We worked together, studied together, and made stupid dating choices together. We left Philly a year apart, but we ended up in D.C., still seeing each other almost weekly. I miss knowing without even thinking about it that my in-case-of-disaster person was just at the other end of Rock Creek Park.
We have not lived in the same place since 1999, when I left D.C. to go to graduate school. That’s almost 10 years living apart, and yet we are a part of one another’s daily lives. There have been trains and planes and emails. And there have been phone bills. Oh, my lord, have there been phone bills. She is the reason we always spring for the reduced long-distance plan, because we talk almost every day. Sometimes several times a day.
Well, she must be missing those long-past Wednesday nights, because today she is getting off a plane and spending the weekend here with me. She’s the kind of friend who leaves her own kids with her husband for the weekend and then offers to babysit my three kids so my husband and I can go out together. But, there’s no way I’d squander any of the 48 hours I get with her.
Maybe we’ll go walk past Tori Spellings’s house for old time’s sake.