I got a text from you the other day. It was the first time we had spoken in seven months. It wasn’t that we had had a falling out, or that we had lost interest in each others’ lives. It was just that we were busy. We’re in different parts of the country. We’re each a little lost, each just trying to map our way through our early twenties. We each understand.
The text simply read “Swiss Chalet is now offering chicken parmesan. I am in heaven.”
I smiled and replied with words of awe at this latest development in our mutual love for franchise rotisserie chicken. It was as if we had never lost touch. A Skype date was planned for the day after the next—and then subsequently rescheduled, as if we didn’t both know that was going to happen.
But we did eventually reconnect via a glitchy WiFi connection. We laughed over the fact that each of our reactions to the other’s stories were coming in at delayed timing, much like the delay that newscasters experience. “Over to you Joanne.” Joanne stares at the camera awkwardly for five seconds listening to her earpiece “Yes, thank you Rob. I’m here at… blah blah blah.”
We talked at length about your new job. You’ve become this career-driven adult—a soldier in the trenches of a corporation with no time for sleep. A commission-philiac who knows that if she doesn’t sell, she doesn’t eat. I was jealous for a beat while you raved about your business-casual attire that has now become your daily wear. I myself have succumbed to the ski bum life I always dreamed about, much to the chagrin of my suit-clad father. But it’s nice to know that we’re both happy with where we are.
We discussed boys. You refuse to get in too deep with the boy I thought you were going to end up marrying. Your current squeeze was procured from a dating app, but we don’t have to tell anyone how you met. I regaled you with the tales of hook-ups with random Aussies and of a heart that was on the mend—my own. You softened the blow and reassured me by saying exactly what I needed to hear—a talent which time has thankfully not dulled.
We talked about home. We asked if the other was homesick. We’re not. East Coast water runs through our veins, but we each fled the shores in search of new beginnings. You were chasing a future with less family ties; I was running from memories that painted our town with broken hearts. Truthfully, we’re all running from something.
We talked about our younger brothers. They’re on the cusp of the rest of their lives. They’re delving into alcohol and hitting the bong. They’re flying by the seat of their pants. They’re having a blast. Remember when we had it all? When our biggest worry was the test at school the next day and our rent wasn’t due a week ago?
After an hour and half of nonstop chatter, I reluctantly asked,
“Should we go now?”
We had been keeping your roommates awake—the time difference is a bitch.
You agreed that it was time to say our goodbyes. We each finished off with a brief departing phrase and a “love and miss you.” I pressed the red end button.
And I felt different. I wouldn’t say it was homesickness, nor would I say I felt nostalgic. I just felt reminded. Reminded that I had had a whole other life previous to the one I was now living. Reminded that my problems in this new place are only temporary. Reminded of how easily I had gotten caught up—caught up in the heartache and the joy and the drinking and a new life where I thought I was invincible.
I had gotten stuck waking up in the same bed, suffering from the same hangover after drinking the same cheap liquor that always makes my head spin. Realizing that my throat feels sliced because I had smoked my last cigarette. Again. Feeling the same hurt.
I suddenly felt normal again. I felt like myself. I felt like the person I had been back when we talked every day—the person I had been before my early twenties and this ski town molded me into a person who was utterly lost. It felt good to feel normal.
And I realized that I wasn’t homesick. Not for a place anyway. I was sick for the people who made that place home. For the people that I could go for seven months without talking to and then pick up right where we left off.
I texted you. I said it was great to hear from you. Let’s not be strangers. You agreed; better to catch up again sooner rather than later.
And it felt like home.
And this is why you’re my best friend.