We are called to encourage each other, and so we buy and send and give them on a whim. Thinking of you! we say. Hang in there! we say. You and me, we’re like two peas in a pod…those slightly irregular, discolored ones that most people throw out, but two of a kind, nonetheless, we say. We hunt the racks for cards that will make the other laugh out loud and slip them in among our egg cartons, hummus and pita chips before checking out. Hey, we say, I saw this and it made me think of you.
In seventh grade, we learned the alphabet in sign language to communicate across the classroom, inconspicuously. We stared at each other’s hands while the other exaggerated each letter, mouthing out the words—W-H-A-T D-O Y-O-U W-A-N-T T-O D-O A-T R-E-C-E-S-S? We signed back, slow and deliberate without anyone noticing, especially not the teacher, I D-O-N-T K-N-O-W W-H-A-T D-O Y-O-U T-H-I-N-K?
In eighth grade, the notes we exchanged across classrooms made us cry. We told our moms about them. We wrote, “At least I know where I’m going when I die.” We wrote back, “You are so mean!” And then we stopped writing back. For a long time. This is where friendships often end.
And then we were juniors, spinning around in the same social circles, summer jobs, and classrooms. The hard exteriors cracked and we started to see into each other, recognize each other again. That’s when the greeting cards began. “I guess we’re back,” we said.
From here I sign G-R-A-C-E and F-O-R-G-I-V-E-N-E-S-S and don’t care whether anyone else can see.
Do I really need to explain this? You are hilarious. Just hand me the tissues.
“Want to go work out?” It’s 2 a.m. the night before a paper is due. We’re in our shared dorm room, at our respective computer desks, and we’ve just instant messaged each other. From across the room.
“Yeah, let’s go.” We are still only facing the trials we place before us, our constant race to perfection as measured in grade points. It’s late. We have a paper due tomorrow.
The student fitness center is just a room with a few treadmills in it and we run next to each other. I press the up button and then you press the up button. I press the up button some more and you press the up button some more. We are panting and sweating, each increasing the speed to see who can run the fastest the longest. If iron sharpens iron, so too treadmill sharpens treadmill.
The Cool Train
There’s no hope for us. We didn’t fall off the cool train; the train pulled up to the station while we were busy mismatching our socks to try to start a trend. The train pulled away and we ran after it and tripped. But it’s okay. We own this awkwardness. You see me. I see you. Together we can be ourselves. The makeup-less and yoga pants versions. We’re in this together.
Late Night Living Rooms
“I’m really sorry that I didn’t believe you. That I wasn’t there to support you. I was wrong.”
We didn’t talk for five years after college, after another one of those friendship-ending conversations. But here we are in my living room, in this town we both live in, surprising each other by how God makes all things new, even broken things, things we thought could never heal.
“I forgive you.”
I sign M-E-R-C-Y and start to send American Greetings more money.
Feel the Burn
We can make anything an inside joke, even squats.
When we weren’t talking, I dreamt of you. In my dreams I was forever trying to save you or rescue you from something. I mention this the night we speak forgiveness to each other and clear the space between us.
You dreamt about me, too. “I was always trying to get away from you.”
We’re So Funny, and Nobody Else Is Laughing
Do you remember the time when we made my car fly with our arms, or the time we drove around with the hazard lights on, or the time we sang country music songs so loud and by heart, and… wait, what? No one else is laughing? But we’re so funny!
I’ll Send an SOS to the World
“How are you?”
“Want to come over?”
“See you in a minute.”
What Best Friends Say
Hi. I was just thinking of you. I miss you. What are you up to? Hang in there. Want to come over and watch a movie and not watch the movie? You can do it. You’re awesome. This is what you were made for. It’s okay. I’ve got your back. You can crash here tonight. Text me if you need me. You’re an idiot stop it. I’m so sorry this happened. I believe in you. Love you, sister. “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Okay, so Julian of Norwich said that, but best friends say it too.)
It’s late and it’s been a while so we call or email or text or instant message. We’re still so funny, but now we have these careers and these relationships and parents who are older, which means we are older and we talk about cancer. We talk about miscarriages. We talk about divorce. We talk about our hopes and fears, for ourselves, for children. We open up the secret places and whisper to each other, “I haven’t said this to anyone else, but…” and we hear. We bear each other’s burdens across the distance. We say, I’ll pray, and we mean it, and in some distant space beyond comprehension peace descends. All shall be well, we say, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Even this. I’m here. I’m thinking of you.