The week I committed to writing about memories was the week of my grandmother’s funeral. I had it all worked out that I was going to write an emotive, vulnerable piece about reminiscing lost loved ones, the years I’ve spent attending far too many funerals, and my journey through seasons of grief and pain. It was all quite poetic, but it’s a story I’ve written before. It felt too easy. I could do better.
Later on in that same week I spoke with a dear friend of mine, Lauren. It became clear throughout our conversation that I needed to scrap everything I had written, because I was right; the tale-of-woe story was too easy, and I could do better. Lauren and I have never taken the easy road. Our roads have led us to different schools, different goals, even different countries, and it hasn’t been easy. We’ve seen each other through graduations, break-ups, deaths, and everything in between, and it hasn’t been easy. I’d like to hope, though, that we’re better for it.
Lauren and I met in preschool. It was one of those introductions where our parents knew each other and thrust us into a friendship so that we would each know someone in class, and luckily it worked out. Even more luckily, it has continued to work out for more than 20 years.
I have always struggled to make friends. You wouldn’t necessarily know it if you observed my social interactions; I can get along with almost anyone, I’m cheerful and bubbly in public, and I have a wide assortment of very kind acquaintances. It doesn’t take long, however, to find that I’m an analytical introvert with a tightly-closed shell that takes a significant amount of effort to pry open. Most people move on before I allow them to truly know me.
Lauren knows me. Being vulnerable has never been difficult with her. Her heart is wide open to receive anything I have to offer, and her encouragement and wisdom has been a primary, driving force in my life.
It hasn’t been all intimate, life-giving moments, of course. We started out as awkward children who played dress-up and danced around the living room singing “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof. We have since upgraded to singing Hamilton, sans the dress-up and dancing.
Some of my favorite memories with Lauren are the simplest ones. People in the church like to throw around the phrase “doing life together,” but I don’t think many understand what that truly looks like. It doesn’t have to be groups of people getting together for fellowship or theological conversations over coffee. To me, it looks like a text from Lauren during our college years that said,
“I’m doing laundry. Want to come over?”
And I did.
Grilled cheese. Make it however you prefer it, but as Lauren and I determined one New Year’s Eve with at least 4 types of cheese, a cutting board, and a dream, we discovered the three secret ingredients to grilled cheese perfection: pesto, avocado, and mozzarella.
Spread butter on each slice of bread, pesto on the other side. Place in a pan butter-side-down. Place sliced avocado on one piece of bread and sliced mozzarella on the other. Toast to your optimal level of toastiness. Once toasted, close your sandwich and microwave for 15-30 seconds for the mozzarella to melt and reach supreme gooey-ness.
Tomatoes and Bacon are optional (but exceptional.)
“For Forever” from Dear Evan Hansen.
Lord God, thank you for creating friendship and community. Thank you for understanding our deepest needs of belonging and to create others we can belong to. Allow those in need of a fulfilling friendship to find it. Allow our friendships to thrive and grow closer with each day as we grow closer to you.
When you know someone long enough, time bleeds together until it doesn’t exist. Lauren and I often text each other questions like “When did we do that/see that/go there?” that take legitimate research to answer. It’s good for us to put in the work to remember so we don’t take our friendship for granted.
Do the work. Push each other to be better. Don’t always do what’s easy. Cry together. Laugh together. Eat grilled cheese together. Do laundry together. Remember all the things you’ve experienced with your significant others, good and bad. Take the time to do them all over again.
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