Allison, one third of the corny friendship formed by EVA.
Reaching over to turn on my phone, the glowing screen informs me that it is nearly two a.m. and my sore body echoes this notion. Despite my headache and bleary eyes, I cannot will myself to sleep. Erica is throwing a pillow across the bed at me and Veronica’s laughter seems to fly across the small room with the pillow. Our conversation floats between the serious and insignificant; Veronica’s colleges acceptances mingle with Erica’s jokes about being a qualified medical professional because of her position as a file clerk in a dental office. Though none of us have seen each other in months, our inside jokes feel perfectly natural and our conversation flows without awkward silences filling the space between us.
In this darkness, an hour and half after we had turned off the lights and set our alarms to wake up at some ungodly hour before even the sun dared to rise, I feel happier than I have in months. Something about our laughter, our ease of friendship, our mutual recognition that this night, this very moment, is sacred, fills me with a sense of awe. It is easy to forget what close friendship feels like when the people you love most are communicated with over text messages and intermittent Skype calls. When you haven’t seen someone’s face but through a Snapchat in the past seven months, it is remarkably difficult to remember why their friendship is so special. When life becomes filled with midterms and college decisions and there is barely enough time to sleep, it is easy to forget why making friends with people who live across the country ever seemed like a good idea. But now, our voices mixing together as we speak too loudly, our laughter creating a symphony of joy, I remember. I remember why I call these girls my best friends. I remember why we celebrate birthdays on three way phone calls and send long handwritten cards to each other. I remember why friendship is so special, why relationships are so precious. And so, wrapped in a blanket, vaguely worried that our raucous laughter will wake my parents, I feel satisfied. Emotions grow inside of me that I cannot name, but I treasure their existence. I wonder how I could have forgotten this sense of happiness. How could I have let myself lose this contentment that reaches into every part of my being? I cannot see much in the darkness, but I am certain the air would sparkle if the sun were to shine in the room. For a brief moment, I find myself quiet; the point in time I am inhabiting has become an eternity that I dream will not end.
The next day, each moment passes with a dreamlike quality. A man on a subway platform who has just moved from India and does not know what train to take asks Veronica where he should go. Between a few questions exchanged about commuting and education, we stand in a small circle for a brief moment, four students connected by their need to reach downtown Manhattan. When a woman drops her phone on the concrete and I bend down to reach it, we touch hands. I help a young boy and his father navigate the subway turnstiles; I swipe a metro card for a confused elderly man. I do not normally think of the strangers I speak to or the things I say in passing, but with Erica and Veronica, everything seems consequential. The startling beauty of human interactions entrance me as I romp through Manhattan with Erica and Veronica by my side. To find another person, even briefly, experiencing the same emotions and willing to extend themselves is a wonderful experience. But we move too quickly to notice these beautiful sparks of raw humanity. I spend hours thinking about the man who sang in the train as he slammed on his bongos; when I smiled at him, I was not angry that he complimented my smile, he did not make me uncomfortable, instead, I was relieved. He too noticed the beauty of the subway car, filled with strangers listening to his erratic music, bonded by the lurching train and rickety tracks.
I have friends who live near me, people I see almost every day or week, people who live a fifteen minute drive away. I love them dearly. But those relationships can be easy; those relationships are formed by two complacent people not constantly reminded of the tenuous nature of their bond. With Erica and Veronica, we have plane tickets with dates marked for the end of the week reminding us that in one hundred and forty four hours we will find ourselves separated by state lines and time zones. Each moment we spend together has a stopwatch held to it, the hour hand of a clock threatening each memory we form. I don’t love spending my friendships this way, wondering if I’ll ever have the time to go back to Lancaster for a week or the money to fly out to California, but there is something irreplaceable in these friendships. There is something worthy of staying up until two a.m. to witness the beauty of humanity, caught between sunset and sunrise, trapped amongst trains racing for downtown Manhattan, and mingled in the laughter of friends.
Our dear friend Veronica runs her own blog and its actually incredibly more put together than ours. Oh, and she’s been published in WSJ. So you know, just normal people things. Go read her stuff. http://thestreetheart.blogspot.com