There are two people in my life who I would consider to be my best friends. I met them both while working at Applebee’s in my early 20s. This is the story of me and one of these friends. She has had a terribly rough year so far. I won’t go into specifics because that is her business and it is not mine to share. But suffice it to say, 2013 has been trying for her, to say the least. She’s one of the strongest people I know and I am so proud of her for the strength she’s shown not only for herself but for the people who depend on her as well. She is a rock. This is our story.

I started at Applebee’s when I was 19. I had recently dropped out of college and although I still had a decent amount of friends from high school around, they had other things going on. So I got this job and there was this raver girl with spiky, never the same color hair who worked there too. I thought she was a bitch. She was bossy and seemed to have inside jokes with others that always felt to me like she was making fun of me or someone else. Well, I don’t know if she was making fun of me or not (she most likely was – I was a new person – that’s just how it goes) but she was definitely making fun of other people. I know this because it wasn’t very long before I was in on the inside jokes (ha! I call them inside jokes but really we just terrorized the new people. Sorry new people! I’m a lot nicer now!) too. You see, we were both smokers and as all current and former smokers know, smoke breaks are where friendships are born. I quit years ago and I still lament over the loss of that friend-making device. Anyway, we started talking on smoke breaks and then we started getting scheduled expo shifts together. An expo shift together meant several drinks at the restaurant across the parking lot before said expo shift. We soon started hanging out all the time. We were young and therefore we thought we were not only above the law, but we were invincible (in our minds, anyway). I’m going to leave out a lot of details here because, you know, we did a lot of stupid (not to mention completely illegal) shit back in those days. But oh man, we had some fun. For years. And stories to last a lifetime.

Like a lot of friends, we drifted apart after a while. She started dating so-and-so and moved to a different town. I moved for a while too. We hardly spoke for several years. That all changed when I discovered MySpace. Thank Jeebus for MySpace (I can’t believe my fingers just typed those words but seriously, MySpace reunited me with one of my best friends and JW. The story of that is for another post.). I made myself a MySpace profile and started finding friends. It wasn’t long before I came across her profile (or she found me, I honestly can’t remember). We started chatting immediately. I remember her saying something like, “It’s so cool that you’re on here, I didn’t know if we’d ever get back in touch.” I wasn’t sure either. I missed my friend but by that time in my life (mid-to-late 20s by then), I’d had so many friendships just sort of naturally dissolve that I didn’t exactly sit around and pine over them. But it was awesome and it felt good to have her back. She lived about an hour and a half away from me but we started going to visit each other every once in a while. And it grew from there. She came to visit me once and we got matching tattoos. Now we’re tied. She’s seen me at my worst and she still loves me. Our lives aren’t filled with quite as many insane antics anymore. But that’s okay. We’re older now and slightly more responsible. And even though we don’t live very close to each other anymore, we’re closer friends than ever. We text each other nearly every morning. I look forward to that. She makes me laugh like almost no one else can.

So here’s to you, friend. I can’t wait to be the loud old ladies drinking perfect margaritas at 11 AM and demanding oriental salads at Applebee’s (because we are gonna HAUNT that place). Being The Golden Girls together is going to be the best!