Tuesday, July 9, 2013

An Open Letter To My Friends Re: This Weekend

Dear Udita, Deborah, and Kara,

It's 3 a.m. and I'm jet-lagged, but I just had the most amazing dream:

I dreamt that I was in the lobby of Hotel Andra in Seattle, waiting for Kara to arrive for my wedding reception that weekend. It was a hot summer's day in Seattle and Kara, I hadn't seen you since 2006! I spotted you as soon as you walked past the window and was there to greet you with a hug when you walked in. You looked so terrific and my heart filled with joy as soon as we spoke: everything was the same. You never cease to light up a room when you walk into it.

After you checked into the hotel, we walked to the Olympic Sculpture Park with John and his mom, Alison, with delicious cups of iced coffee in hand. It was a beautiful day on the Sound, and sail boats were abound on the water, which glittered like crazy. We took silly photos in front of questionable fountains and fake rooftops, and caught up on the classmates from Mount Holyoke we've seen - both in person and on Facebook.

After having a dubious sandwich from Subway, which involved standing in line for much longer than necessary, I got a call from Deborah, my first-year (and sophomore year!) roommate. Remember little Debbie? Our adventures to Friendly's for ice-cream sundaes in her red Camaro? Deborah, I hadn't seen you since you graduated early from MHC in 2005, but you said you were five minutes away from the hotel, so we gathered up our things and started walking back.

The minute I walked into the reception area and saw you, Deborah, I was so excited: you looked and sounded exactly the same. We filled the lobby with our shrieks and laughter, then headed down to Pier 55 to take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, where we had amazing views over the Sound, Seattle skyline, and restaurants below.

When we got back to the hotel, we shared an incredibly delicious selection of tapas at Lola, during Happy Hour. Skewers of grilled halloumi, honey-glazed pork, and octopus were brought to our table on sizzling platters, drizzled with a shot of ouzo, which caramelized the onions and made our mouths water. I even enjoyed the ouzo on my arm, after the waitress accidentally poured it down my shirt instead of the plate. Yum.

After dinner, we went back to the suite that John and I were staying and demolished a magnum of wine while listening to all the music we loved at MHC. I got a text from Udita and read it out to you: she was on her way. When she arrived, you thought it'd be a great idea for me to hide and surprise her. I ruined the surprise by leaping out from behind the couch early and letting out some sort of strangled wail, which you proceeded to imitate for the rest of the weekend. You girls are such jokers.

We went out that night to have enormous desserts at The Cheesecake Factory (which none of us had been to since we were in high school, save for Udita, who apparently visits every other week) and ridiculously good cocktails at Clever Bottle, where we did shots with a random medical student named Danny. Kara got into an argument with the taxi driver while the rest of us snickered in the backseat.

The next morning (the day of the reception), you all showed up to my room and surprised me by whisking me away for donuts at Top Pot Doughnuts, a luxe spa trip in downtown Seattle (which included massages and a champagne toast!), and a manicure on the way back. We took awkward selfies in bathroom mirrors and made everyone else in the spa uncomfortable with our hysterical laughter. And we didn't care one bit.

At the reception, Udita gave a beautiful speech that made me cry, and I heard you girls cackling away during dinner, which made my heart sing, because I knew you were there, cracking jokes, having a great time, and that nothing had changed.

It was like a dream come true.

The best part of my dream? It was all real. It just happened this weekend. But I had so much fun and was so deliriously happy, that I had to pinch myself when I got back to this side of the ocean - just to make sure it was real.

I am so lucky to have friends like you. I cried on my way to the airport, at the airport, and on the plane because I missed you so much already. I forgot what it feels like to have a friendship like yours - the kind where I feel at home in, wholly comfortable and totally safe. I forgot what it feels like to laugh honestly - the kind where you wake the next morning with aching sides because you couldn't breathe from laughing so hard. I forgot what it was like to create moments that would provide a lifetime of inside jokes.

Then I realized that most people never experience this kind of friendship, one that is so tightly woven and strong, nothing can shake it - not even years apart, not even years of not communicating regularly, not even distance. And that made me sad. Our friendship is like a secret, like a good recipe that one is reluctant to impart for fear that someone will take it, replicate it, replace it, and make it better. But that secret is ours, and can't be stolen.

My time with you was so precious, it was like a fleeting dream. I could see each moment pass before me, count the seconds, the minutes that ticked along, until I found myself back in the same old place again, in my flat in buzzing London, knowing that you, Udita, were back in Houston, Deborah, back in Madison, and Kara, back in San Diego - our little group dispersed once more, returning back to normal.

Like a child pulled away from the party early, I wondered why seeing each other all the time couldn't be "normal". How many more years will pass before we have our next reunion? But I guess then moments like the ones we had this weekend wouldn't be as precious or as special.

I love you and hope we'll meet again soon. Thank you for making my wedding weekend perfect.



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