Monday, June 6, 2011

A Journey Back

I apologize for my brief absence. I spent the past week in Georgia visiting old friends and I planned to blog while I was there. (I even pre-wrote a few posts for easy maintenance). Little did I know, the three of us would accomplish nothing outside of reliving memories and catching up on the seven years that separate then and now. At first, I was afraid that the experiences filling the seven-year gap might have created an emotional distance equal to that of the physical one. But it took only a brief embrace in front of the baggage claim carousel to close the gap, melt the fear, and re-open my life to two of the most important people to ever touch my heart.

Allow me to rewind and tell the very short version of a very long story. Katie and Kellie are identical twins, and I met them in seventh grade. For the next 6 years, we would share everything - from secrets and habits to classes and jobs to beds and toothbrushes (gross, but true). We worked together. We studied together. We cheered together. We took each other on family vacations. We shared a lot of firsts and a lot of lasts and a whole bunch of "never agains." We laughed about things no one else could understand and we cried about things we could only tell each other. From 7th through 12th grade, we were completely inseparable.  

Something happened after high school that caused us to go our separate ways. And by separate, I mean that I was at Illinois State and they were just up the street at Illinois Wesleyan. We got together a few times in college, but the visits got shorter and the time between them got longer. We still can't figure out exactly how or why we drifted. All I know is that for the first time in our lives, we actually had to exert effort to see each other. We weren't walking the same halls, taking the same classes, and participating in the same activities anymore. All of our common day-to-day experiences were stripped away, and our relationship was no longer effortless. We thought the need for effort meant that we were drifting apart, and we mistook a bend in the road for the end of the road.

After college, they both moved to Atlanta. In the years that followed, we all got married and each had a daughter. Our friendship was slowly reduced to sporadic comments on facebook photos and random we-should-get-together messages that never became anything (this was before we learned about effort). I decided to come to Georgia on a whim, and I attribute our reunion entirely to the work of God who put the thought in my mind and the urge in my heart. I went there in hopes of rekindling a friendship. I didn't realize that the rekindling would not be necessary. Every laugh, every memory, every part of us that exists inside each other was kept perfectly in tact. I believe that as we navigated through the twists and turns of our teen years, the essences of our identities imprinted themselves on each others' hearts. Last Saturday we learned that, because of those imprints, any distance and any length of time can be erased with a single hug.

We spent the week being just as inseparable as we always had been - we even piled all of the girls in the car so we could all go to Kroger together. I looked in the backseat where three car seats occupied the spaces that once held three cheerleading duffel bags. As we drove, we sang along with the radio and laughed about things only the three of us would find funny. I took comfort in the thought that everything may be different, but nothing has changed. We still strategically planned meals and showers to maximize our time together. We stayed up talking over glasses of wine until all hours of the night, even though we knew the days of sleeping in were over (ok, one thing definitely did change). We talked about the people and events of our past, filled each other in on the gaps, talked about the dreams that came true and those that had changed, and wondered what the next 10 years might bring.

I do believe that if you look back on a friendship that drifted apart and no one can identify a reason, then there probably isn't a good one. It still makes me sad that we let so many years come between us, but I'm thrilled that I finally rediscovered my best friends and a long lost piece of myself. The part of my heart that belongs to them has been missing for seven years, and I didn't even realize it until I spent a week getting back in touch with it. If you have a friend like this in your life, I encourage you to put in the effort to maintain that relationship. If you feel like a part of you is missing without her, then there is probably a part of her that is missing without you. If you lost her, find her. If you miss her, tell her. And if your friendship hits an obstacle, remember that "a bend in the road isn't the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn" (anonymous).

Thank you, Katie and Kellie, for all that you are to me - then, now, and always.

No comments:

Post a Comment