Last summer, my dear, sweet friend, Sarah, moved from just down the road from me back to our hometown. As sad as I was to not have her here in Orlando anymore, I certainly understood wanting to raise your family closer to family. That’s the reason we ended up in Orlando in the first place ourselves. And so, when her moving truck pulled away last summer, I did my very best to put on a happy face and send them off with love and best wishes.
But inside, I was so very, very sad. Sarah has been such an important part of my life since we were in 6th grade. I can’t think of too many other friends who have had such a profound impact on me. Having her down the street from me in Orlando was such a gift. We would often meet for 5:00am runs together. Typically, these “runs” turned into rapid, furious walking with brows furrowed and arms pumping while we complained about our jobs, our lacking bank accounts, or our husbands. But just as often, we could hear our laughter bouncing off the quiet, sleeping streets of our neighborhood. It was my favorite way to start the day.
Sarah and I share an unnatural love of reading, and often times, we would meet around 8:00pm, after my kids had been put to bed. We would ride up to Barnes and Noble and spend an hour catching up over Starbucks drinks, followed by another hour just browsing the bookstands.
Saturdays were sometimes spent shopping or going to the movies or just sitting by one of our pools while my kids swam and we got some sun. During the holidays, we were at each other’s tables, and rarely did a family function pass by without Sarah and her husband, Scott, celebrating with us.
When Sarah had her sweet baby girl, Sadie, and told me that they were thinking of moving back home to Pensacola. I was so happy for them, but it was bittersweet. And my days have changed drastically without my dear friend close by.
All of this is to say that this weekend was much needed for me.
Sarah and I went to school in Tallahassee at Florida State University, and it just so happens that FSU is halfway between our cities now. It was the perfect meeting place. We stayed with Sarah’s Aunt Karen, who was like a second mother to us when we were in school, and it was wonderful to spend time with both women. Sarah and I left our kids with our husbands, and had the entire weekend to catch up and reminisce.
We both got into town on Friday night, and immediately resumed our seats at Aunt Karen’s kitchen table, which is just about the most cozy kitchen you have ever sat in. We sat up until 3:00 in the morning, talking and laughing and drinking wine. Sarah and I fell into bed at 3:30, still talking, and we woke up the next morning at 8:00am and picked the conversation up as we laid there, almost as if we had never stopped. There was so much to say!
We spent Saturday morning having a late, leisurely breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee, and then we headed off for shopping. Sarah is my favorite person to shop with because we shop similarly. We break off inside stores to do our own things, then meet back up every 5 minutes or so to show what we have found before slipping off for more individual shopping. Never underestimate a friend who is good to go shopping with. They are few and far between.
That afternoon, we headed to campus to see what had been happening at FSU without us. We drove to old boyfriend’s apartments, bars and watering holes we frequented, and laughed as we shared stories and secrets that were buried long ago in the heart of campus. I had not been back to FSU since I graduated in 2005, and it was perfect to go back for the first time with Sarah.
Saturday night we had great plans to go to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner (Food, Glorious Food, in case anyone is in the area…), but by the time we got home late that afternoon, we were too tired to go back out again. We ate carrot cake for dinner at Aunt Karen’s house, and we were both in bed by 9:00pm where we sat up reading until the wee small hours of the morning. Such a luxury!
It is so hard to let a good friend go. It just about broke my heart when Sarah moved away. But the thing about true friendship is that proximity has no merit. Here or there, it doesn’t matter. Sarah and I carry our friendship with us, and every time we see each other again, it feels like coming home.
Happiness lesson learned: Happiness shines inside lasting, loving friendships.