You’re standing on a kitchen chair at 2 AM screaming Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” at the top of your lungs and you tell yourself one sure thing. You look at each face in the room and think, we’ll be friends forever. There are long talks about graduation, hypothetical weddings, and future trips to see each other, but it all feels far away.
I’m 25 now, and the couple of short years since all my friends graduated has felt like an entire lifetime. In all of my life, these years have been where I experienced the most change. Life happens. Exciting new jobs happen. Moving happens. Family emergencies happen. Growing up happens. And it’s almost as if you blink and can’t even remember what it felt like to be wine-drunk in a smokey kitchen literally crying because you love the people in this room so much.
I had the very surreal pleasure over the weekend of going upstate to one of my closest college friend’s Baby Shower. It was a beautiful and emotional night, and I am happier than I can explain that I didn’t miss it. This particular friend of mine is someone I loved very deeply back when we spent almost every day together, and she was more beautiful than ever at the Shower.
It was a great night filled with laughter, reconnecting, remembering the past, and planning for the future. I had forgotten just how much certain people meant to me until I was actually standing in front of them.
For a while, the night felt like a game of pretend where we were all acting like grown-ups. We had traded in our smokey kitchen for a candle-lit living room. Given up our Solo Cups of boxed wine and beer for fancy stemmed glasses of the good stuff. And instead of celebrating the fact that it was a Saturday night and we didn’t have to go to class in the morning, we actually had something real to celebrate.
The connections to these people felt the same, though, which became apparent as I was leaving the Shower. Another friend of mine from school, who I had reminisced with for much of the evening, was smoking on the steps outside. Once again, I found myself wine-drunk and emotional. We talked about how close we used to be and how, despite the distance and the the time spent between seeing each other, everything felt exactly the same as ever here and now, even at this very different chapter in our lives. A few suppressed tears, a plan to visit in the new year, a goodbye that lasted half an hour, and five “last hugs” later, I left.
Don’t take your relationships with people for granted. From college and beyond, you’ll change more than you ever expected, and it’s the friends who were there for the transition that are the most important. I, for one, know that I will be dedicating a lot more of my efforts to making these relationships last the test of time. This is what life is all about, after all.
And if I’ve ever drunkenly told you all my secrets, crashed on your couch after a bad night, read poetry with you on the living room floor, or gone for a midnight adventure with you in the rain…know that I love you still.