On Saturday, I woke up before the bounce of Harper’s knees hit my mattress. If you know me, you’d know I’m not much of a morning person. I need at least 20 minutes between the first flutter of my eyelids and the moment someone decides to speak in my general direction and I rarely stir without being prodded. But that day, I woke feeling fragile and young and nervous.
The weekend prior, I had received a digital olive branch, a Facebook message from a girl I had gone to college with. She was actually the first friend I ever made when I moved to San Diego. We lived on opposite wings of our dorm’s 8th floor; after freshman year we moved in together, and shared a wall for a while. For a time we were very close and it is safe to say there are some things I whispered to her in the dark safety of our apartment, things about me that I’ve never mustered the courage to utter to anyone else. She was more than a girl, she was a dear, dear friend. She was going to be in my town, just for 48 hours and she wanted to meet for coffee. Meet me for coffee. She left a number where she could be reached.
And so yes, on this morning I woke up before my little blonde alarm. I crawled out of bed, careful not to wake up Guy. I brushed my teeth and I thought about nights in her Ford station wagon blasting Rilo Kiley and quiet moments spent perched on the counters in the kitchen, swinging feet thumping against closed cupboard doors. I recalled camping trips in the mountains, root beer floats in Baker, steaks fit for lumberjacks instead of a night at the ballet, dance parties and getting drunk on too much Captain Morgan’s. But mostly I thought about how quickly I had severed ties and how fervently I put a distance between us and how the last time I saw her was because we ran into each other at Target, five years ago.
It felt like I was going on a date, I changed my outfit twice, took my wedding ring off because it didn’t match my necklace only to put it back on again. Thought about what I would talk about and what I wouldn’t. I promised myself I wouldn’t talk too much. I drank three cups of tea and I checked my email six times. I got Harper dressed for dance class and I waited for her to text me to cancel, even though that was always my move and not hers. And then I left early to meet her because I didn’t want to be late.
It was an immensely enjoyable meal, good simple food, poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce that didn’t break, hot coffee, the gift two hours to share with someone I wasn’t sure I’d see again. We feel into a painfully familiar pattern and I completely forgot my list of approved conversation topics by the time I had ordered. It was easy and comforting and it made me happy but it also made me sad because I wasted so much time and effort being proud and put out and feeling victimized that by the time I figured out I was wrong, I felt like there was no way to turn back.
I can’t let go of the history we don’t share, the gaps in what could be our collective past. I didn’t invite her to my wedding, she’s only spent 90 seconds with my daughter who is undeniably the most important person in my life. We’ve never gone of a trip to reunite with our mutual college roommates or booked a weekend in Palm Springs. But, I’ll take coffee in San Diego’s November sunshine. I’ll take what I can get, as graciously as I know how, because my friends are always better people than I am and that day by the lake went too fast.