When I was five, my mom used to play this game I call, “If you got married today.”
[Considering I’m 26 and as single as they come, the game was considerably more fun back then. Thanks mom.]
The game goes like this:
- If you got married today…what would your colors be?
- If you got married today….what flavor would you want as a cake?
- If you got married today…would it be inside or outside?
And, her absolute favorite question to ask:
- If you got married today, who would be the bridesmaids at your wedding?
If I got married today, the majority of my bridal party wouldn’t know one another’s first names.
With the exception of those living in D.C., I need to buy a plane ticket to see any of my friends. At 26, I have lived in five different states—and this is coming from a girl who went instate for school.
My first two years out of college, I was in three weddings and invited to four more. It nearly killed me. I spent so much money flying back from DCA to the Midwest I made a rule that if I was not physically in the wedding, I wasn’t going.
Worst. Decision. Ever.
I was given three of the best college roommates a girl could ask for. My friend Katie was the first of the three to get engaged. Never in a million years did I think I would miss one of the most important days in these three girls’ lives, but I missed Katie’s wedding. I can remember the day I went back and forth between PNCBank.com and Kayak, comparing my bank account to the price of a ticket. I finally called my former roommate and told her I wasn’t going to make it.
Here’s the thing: I am 100% aware that had I gone to that wedding, I would have talked to Katie for all of thirty seconds. I get that. That’s also not the fucking point.
This summer, the final two were married within six weeks of each other. I flew back for both. At one, Katie told me, “I almost couldn’t make it. Then I thought of you, and how much you always regretted not being able to make mine.”
Two weeks ago my college team captain (and one of my favorite people on the team) was in D.C. I found out at 2 p.m. on a Thursday, when he was flying out at 6 a.m. the next morning. We made plans to grab a drink at eight that evening.
By 10:30, he was just wrapping up dinner. I was lying on my bed with the covers over my head thinking about how much I didn’t want to go out.
Any reasonable person would have understood if I shot him a text that read, “Hey, I’m going to have to take a rain check. Hit me up the next time you’re in town.” Instead, I gave him the biggest hug in the world and said, “Kevin Earl, I had to set my phone on loud so I wouldn’t fall asleep before you texted me.” We hung out until two in the morning.
Everyone has friends who only make an appearance when it’s convenient. They’ll meet you at the bar, but only if you’re in their neighborhood. They’ll go to your party, but only after they ask who else is going. They’ll see you when you’re in town, but will never make the reverse trip. I had not seen Kevin Earl since I graduated. If we stay on course, I would have been waiting for that rain check until 2019.
This morning I texted my friend Royale, who has been one of my best friends since the first grade. The two of us have absolutely nothing in common. She’s blonde hair, blue eyes to my brunette; she’s known for being the sweetheart of the class while I’m known for having a bad mouth; she teaches special education at the elementary school, while I bow down at her feet for being so patient and understanding.
We did not stay friends for twenty years because we shared similar interests. We have stayed friends because every time I come home, we get coffee, just the two of us. Every. Single. Time. If either of us had rain-checked each other during those visits, there would have come a time when one of us would have just stopped asking.
When someone truly matters to you, you will go out of your way for that person. Not because you have to, or because they’ll hold it against you if you don’t come through—but because they will be touched (and probably surprised) you thought to do so in the first place. Hearing the words, “I can’t believe you….
- “…mailed me flowers when I was having a shitty day”
- “…brought me Pepto when I was home sick from work.”
- “…made me lunch because I was too hungover to meal prep.”
…Should be reason enough. It probably won’t matter if you don’t make the weddings, birthday dinners, coffee visits, and hangover brunch. But it will matter to them when you do.
Friends aren’t supposed to be convenient. That’s the whole point.