Twenty-two years ago we met, perhaps tentatively at first, in the rooms we shared at the end of a double-wide mobile home once used by the Rajneeshpuram compound. At the time, I think any one of us would have been shocked to hear that we’d end up being so close, let alone that our friendship would endure.
We were strangers with, as it would turn out later, not terribly much in common – but in those first few months after we met our freshman year we cemented a bond that has lasted more than two decades. In four years of college we had no classes together and studied in completely different departments, but lived together more often than we lived apart. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand completely what makes my friendship with these three fabulous women so strong, or how we became such fast friends in the first place, but I’ll remain thankful for their support and love until my last breath.
We have been there for one another during extremely difficult times over the years, including painful break-ups, job losses, and the deaths of close family members. If any one of us begins an emotional dump with “I’m sorry I’m venting, you guys, but…” the others are quick to point out that apologies are not and never will be necessary here. This is, we understand, part of the role we play in each others’ lives – it’s part of our job as friends to be there, without question.
We have also been around to celebrate with each other – career triumphs and births and marriages. It’s the latter that seems to bring us together, all four of us, most reliably since we don’t all live in the same part of the world anymore – so although my heart was soaring as I watched Toni say her vows in the Nevada desert earlier this month, I’ll admit that part of the reason for the tears I shed was that hers was the last wedding.
I want to believe that we will all four be together in one place at one time in the nearer future than this – we are, after all, only 40 – but I couldn’t help but feel, just a bit, like the next things on our collective agenda were going to be funerals.
Ladies, we owe it to ourselves – to our friendship – to make absolutely sure that we take the time to be there, in real time, for one another before we’re forced to do so by something tragic. Let’s make good on those promises of a getaway trip. Even if it’s just to whatever city lies midway between us, I’m confident we can turn it into the best weekend we’ll have all month.
(I mean, unless it’s a dry town or something. We have to have some standards.)
I love you guys. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I quite literally couldn’t be the person I am today without you.
I am a part of all the people I have known… We would not survive were it not for our friends, who simply by being our friends, harrowed hell for us.
— Madeleine L’Engle
PS to the L.E.M. ladies – You can’t be mad at me for making you cry, because I totally made myself cry while I was writing this. So there.
PPS to everyone else – L.E.M. is what the four of us call our merry little band. If you don’t already know what L.E.M. stands for, I’m not going to tell you, so save yourself the trouble of asking. On a side note, I have been making myself giggle lately by thinking it should stand for “Loving Every Minute” or something ridiculous like that. No, that’s not what it stands for. We aren’t that cheesy.