From first through eighth grade I attended a small Catholic school in a little Wisconsin town. There were nine people in my eighth grade class. Seventh and eighth grades were taught in the same room by the same teacher - and even then there were only 15 of us. Of the people in my eighth grade class, six of us had been together in school since that first day of first grade. Of those six people, the only one I am still close friends with is Colleen, who right this minute (due to uncooperative weather in Wisconsin) is sitting next to me on my living room sofa.
I cannot adequately express how happy this makes me. I'm sorry she couldn't get home to her own house and children tonight, but I'm thrilled that I was able to offer her a place to stay when she became stranded in Ohio.
Colleen is an assistant volleyball coach for a Big-Ten university and had been in town recruiting this weekend. I was already fortunate enough to catch up with her last night - when she came to visit before heading to her hotel. We stayed up way too late talking and looking at old pictures and now we get to do it again tonight.
I have a handful of friends like Colleen - people who I know well enough that it genuinely never matters how much time has passed since we've last seen each other. Before tonight the last time I'd seen Colleen was two years ago when we were on vacation in Wisconsin. And before that I hadn't seen her since her wedding five or six years earlier. We don't even talk frequently, but she does read here (Hi Colleen!) and we exchange the occasional email.
So even though she'd never met my children before yesterday and we hadn't spoken in a couple of years, it was as natural as ever to sit down and eat with her last night and to invite her to stay tonight. AND I didn't even feel the need to play hostess. Matt and I just finished watching the newest episode of The Amazing Race and Colleen, who doesn't watch it, sat with us and read her book. I cannot think of many people, other than my immediate family, who could just slide in and hang out with us like that. It probably seems strange that we were watching TV and she was reading when we so rarely get to spend time together, but like I said, there was a lot of catching up yesterday. It's just comfortable. Perhaps that's how it always is with someone you've known since you were six.
I don't take it for granted, having a friend I am so entirely at ease with. Even in this age of hyper-connectedness, a 27 year friendship is a remarkable relationship. It is awesome, and I am thankful.