Friday, July 3, 2009

High School Musical -- Er, Reunion

You may have been wondering why I slacked on getting yesterday's post up. Well, I have an excellent reason for my delinquency (or blogging rest day, to put a different spin on it...) -- a friend of mine was in town. And not just any friend. This particular chica is one of my old high school pals, and I haven't seen her in six years, until yesterday. Toss in the facts that we went to high school in New Jersey and that she visited me in my current hometown in Montana and you cannot deny that this was one big event in my life!

I must admit that I felt very nervous about seeing my friend. I'd actually lost track of her until she contacted me via Facebook about a year or so ago. Since then we have chatted online, and she mentioned six months back that she was planning a road trip west. I told her to be sure to look me up if she ever made it -- and, much to my surprise, she did! If it had been me, I think I would have felt too chicken to call up a person whom I hadn't seen in over half a decade. But she's a brave soul, thankfully, and yesterday we hung out after I got off of work.

When she pulled up outside my house yesterday afternoon, my heart was battering away at my ribs in anxiety. So much seemed to be at stake. If things were strange, awkward, or strained between us, we were in for a miserable day and night together. Not only that, but I feared that if our reunion was not terribly successful it would mar all of my positive memories of our four-year friendship.

As soon as she walked through my front door, though, I knew -- this was my old friend. The same girl who I swooned over horses with, that I struggled through sophomore year chemistry with (with the assistance of copious amounts of Skittles), who I laughed with over the most silly things, who was -- and is! -- a beautiful person both on the surface and down deep, where it counts most. Sure, we're older, and we're different. Life has happened to us, after all! I'm married, work with sometimes crazy kids, and am entertaining plans to have children of my own. My friend, on the other hand, has put herself through vet school, is about to embark on a new professional vetting adventure down in Texas, has a serious and wonderful-sounding boyfriend, and is courageously stepping outside her Catholic upbringing, drawing close to God. Not small things. But somehow we're still kindred spirits, as Anne Shirley would say. How am I this blessed? It's lovely.

After catching up and letting my friend catch her breath after her long road trip, we hit the trails. Despite the ridiculous heat and a much higher altitude than she is accustomed to, my friend made it up a steep hike to a major landmark. We then explored the local university's campus, although I couldn't tell her much since it's not my alma mater. Still, it was lovely just to walk and chat. After leaving her shower and taking myself on a short but very sweaty run, I hit the shower myself before the Best Husband Ever came up from work.

We took my friend to a downtown evening event that we'd never been to before. It's actually the dinner version of Out to Lunch, which my mom and I hit up during her visit. The outdoor event boasts live music and a plethora of food vendors selling a whole spread of different cuisines as well as drinks and dessert. It was hard to choose only one stall because everything smelled so good! I saw Indian fry bread (that's Native American Indian, not India Indian), jambalaya, curry, burgers, empanadas, tacos, pitas, and stir fry.

I eventually decided on something I've never eaten, spring rolls. They were incredibly delicious. The rice wrapper was stuffed with crunchy romaine, cilantro, bean sprouts, steamed rice noodles, and shrimp. As if that wasn't fresh-tasting enough, the rolls were absolutely made by the peanut dipping sauce that came on the side. This dinner definitely deserves a holy yum! I got bonus enjoyment points from the fact that the vendors selling the spring rolls were two young Asian women for whom English is clearly not their first language. Our brief interaction brought my Malaysian food court adventures to mind.

Triumphant with my tasty dinner plate, I met my friend and the Best Husband Ever at our designated spot. She had opted for slice of pizza from a specialty Montana-only (as far as I know) pizzeria. The hubby went for a burger and a pack of potato chips. After we scarfed the amazing food, we hung out and listened to the rather mediocre music before moving on.

We strolled the main street and eventually treated ourselves to frozen yogurt at Moxiberry (a strangely blatant clone of Pinkberry) for a refreshing dessert. I tried a new concoction, green tea yogurt topped with shredded coconut and chunks of fresh mango and kiwi. At first I didn't quite like the texture of the coconut, but it grew on me as I ate. My friend ordered an original yogurt with fresh strawberries, and the Best Husband Ever got a plain green tea. Yum!

As we wrapped up the night, I felt pleasantly full -- not only of good food, but also of nourishing camaraderie. The whole day just served to reinforce the truth that I'm slowly coming to understand more and more -- that the most important things in life aren't things, but people. Relationships. With God, and then with each other. From spouses to parents to friends to enemies to those people standing with you in line at the grocery store -- they are all so precious, so lovely, and so vital. This is something that I already know and try, with some fits and starts, to live out, but it was wonderful to have the lesson reinforced in such a beautiful way. Thank you, old friend!

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King