I have been blessed in my life with incredible friends. I'm not sure how it happened. One of these friends is coming to visit me tomorrow, and I couldn't be more excited. We met in a Literature for the Young Adult course while I was in graduate school. She was working in a small group next to mine, and I whipped my head her way when I heard her quoting my favorite Southpark episode. That sealed the deal.
I think of her every time I eat feta cheese because she taught me that "feta feta feta, makes it betta betta betta." She watched all of Twin Peaks with me, sometimes providing the pie. She once gave me a pile of great hand-me-downs when she lost a bunch of weight (yep, I guess that made me the "fat friend" but oh well. I'll never turn down free clothes). She nicknamed me "Weena" after a hot-dog chasing contest. I once, as a joke, gave her a can of pork and beans. Several months later, when I'd gone to visit her, I found this can displayed proudly on her dresser. I showed up at her house another day, distraught over an unexpected letter from a guy, and she took me in and said, "Lori, boys will always make us cry."
Another time, she and another friend drove me to a beach in Florida when I was depressed about missing a U2 concert. We just sat there most of the night. That one 18 hour trip cleared my head like nothing else could and gave me the courage to launch out again into the world, openly and fearlessly.
The next year, she came to visit me on the other side of the world, bringing with her a five-pound package of grits. She carried the grits in her carry-on. When I met her at the airport in Budapest, one of the first things I heard her say was, "These grits are so heavy!" How I ever managed to find a friend selfless and funny enough to cart a ridiculously huge amount of my favorite Southern staple halfway across the globe for me, I have no idea. I am not worthy of such devotion.
I have heard this friend sing "Dancing Queen" to a Slovak taxi driver in the middle of the night. I have shared one tiny duffel bag with her on a weeklong excursion to Croatia. I have whistled the army marching song as we got lost with our English pal, the "man with a map betwixt you two." I have sat with her on a stone step outside our room in Hvar and cried with her. I watched her fall in love with a solid, silly man who seems to have risen from the Arkansas clay just to woo, wed, and love my friend. I have stood with her at her wedding as she stood with me at mine.
And tomorrow, they come to Portland to spend a whole week with me! I am blessed beyond measure.
The week after they leave, my tickets are booked to visit another dear friend, and again, I find myself shaking my head, wondering how, oh how. What a lucky girl I am.