I had a lovely time. We talked about school, relationships, traveling, depression, vegetarianism, writing, and Conservatives over saag paneer and vegetable kurma. A glittery Indian painting hung to our left. It made me sad to sit across from her and think that in the past few years, we had been reduced to meeting once a month, or even less, and now she was leaving to start new adventures in new places without me. She is very close to my heart.
I met Best Friend when I was around seven years old. She lived around the corner from me and I think my mother sold her mother Avon products or something. Pretty soon, our mothers plopped us into dance class together. By the time our recitals came and went, we had formed a bond. We were inseparable for the next few years, but when we went to different junior high schools, we lost touch. We started hanging out again when we got to high school. It was just before my sixteenth birthday.
When we were seventeen, we went to a showing of "A Hard Day's Night" at a local movie theater with three other friends (well, two other friends and a constant tag-along that neither Best Friend nor I liked). It was the first time I was seeing the movie, and the first time they had seen it in years. We fell in love from the very opening chords. The Beatles were young and countercultural and witty . . . everything we wanted to be at the time. We tumbled out of that theater as energized as the boys themselves were in the film, skipping along the streets and chattering excitedly. As it were, each of us had taken a liking to a certain Beatle and we decided to "assume" their identities. One friend, the one who had an obsession with pretty boys, asserted, "I'm Paul." Best Friend laid claim to George, and I chimed in, "I'm Ringo!" We turned and looked at our hippie friend, telling her that she was so John. She made a peace sign. We made the annoying tag-along Paul's clean grandfather. We lined up and crossed the streets in Abbey Road order. Yeah, we did.
The other friends fell by the wayside, but B.F. and I held fast. We were the only two of the group who got to meet Paul and Ringo in the following years. When I was in the hospital for appendicitis, she made me a Ringo teddy bear out of a plain teddy bear and hair extensions. When she studied abroad in England, she wrote our names on the heavily graffiti-ized Abbey Road sign. When George died, she called from London and we choked on our tears together. Our high school yearbooks are marked with messages to and from "George" and "Ringo."
The last time she left the country for three months, she sent me postcards from London, Liverpool, Venice, Florence, Rome, Nice, and Paris. She was a college student for the first time, having new experiences and seeing new places. I was not yet a college student, opting to take time off to raise my newborn siblings. Two totally different experiences, bridged by letters and photos and friendship.
I hope that this trip is just as, if not more, fulfilling for her than the last one. And I hope that we hang out a lot more when she gets back.