“Hi, friend!” she yells across the coffee shop as she walks in. We haven’t seen each other in five years, but I don’t think the baristas would’ve guessed that as easily as we hug, order coffee, and fall into conversation.
She immediately shows me a picture of her nephew, born when we were fifteen, and the other nephews who have come along since. She tells me about her work and her dogs and her house, scrolling through the camera roll on her phone. She shows me her tattoos, the most obvious one on her left forearm, silhouettes of Peter Pan, Wendy, and the Lost Boys flying across a banner that reads “never grow up.” I love that tattoo because it sums her up perfectly.
Because she was always the friend that I got into trouble with, in the best sense. We share those memories with each other again, out loud, laughing at the same places in the stories that we’ve laughed at for almost twenty years.
“My mom still swears we went walking in Mooringsport that one night the sheriff called,” she chuckles. We were seventeen, visiting her grandparents in their small Louisiana town, the two of us sharing a camping trailer on their property for a week. “I keep telling her that we didn’t, even though we did sneak out to make sandwiches in Granny’s kitchen. Do you remember that?” We laugh, and I remember. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were never so sweet.
Later that summer, she went with me to visit my grandparents in their small town in New York. The one stop-light town didn’t offer much, but the next town over had an Ames and we occupied an afternoon wandering the aisles, daring each other to try on the most ridiculous clothes we could find.
We were never ones to say no to a dare, which is probably how we always wound up in trouble and is definitely how we ended up in pleather pants.
In a lot of ways, I think we’re still those same kids. She still twirls her hair when she’s nervous, and I still have a hard time making eye contact when I’m talking about something serious. She still stops mid-conversation with a “Wait, what was I talking about?” when her ADD gets the better of her, and I still bite my nails unthinkingly when I’m listening. And we still laugh a lot and too loudly when we’re together.
But, in a lot of other ways we’re different. We’ve each gotten some new edges and some new wounds we didn’t have when we were seventeen. We have different stories to tell about faith, about how we lost it for a little while and then God met us again. We go to different churches, live in different states, and like to do different things in our free time. Whether we like to admit it or not, we have grown up.
And through it all, we have stayed friends. Because some people just stick to you, like peanut butter and jelly or a pair of pleather pants.