It had been a long time since I had seen my friends together.
This summer was a constant carnival of new faces and loved ones. I have a thousand flashing memories in my mind. However, until a couple of weeks ago, there was no quiet. No calm. No chance to let down my guard and just be.
Yesterday, I spent the day with my dear friends Tita and Meri. I met Tita 19 years ago, three days before I began my first teaching job. By the end of the conversation next to her green-metal filing cabinet, we were friends. We created an American Studies program at that high school and taught side by side for five years. She has known me through that awkward time of my late 20s, my time in New York, the craziness of London, the reunion years of my being back in Seattle, the sick years before I was diagnosed with celiac, meeting Danny, Lucy in the ICU, and every day since. We only had one non-family member in the hospital room just after Lu was born: Tita.
I cannot think of a single topic of conversation we have not covered together, mostly while walking or holding cups of coffee in our hands. She is the wisest woman I know.
Meri and I met the first day of my working at the College Board in New York. It was my first and last office job. I only made it six months before I had to flee that cubicle life. Meri I kept. We lived in apartments across the hall from each other when we both moved to Seattle from New York in 2001. We were like a sitcom, cooking together and talking about anything that arose. I brought her to Tita and John’s house for dinner and we all became friends together. She moved back to New York the day after she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. (I did not make her wear an awful dress.) She met Danny before I did she went to his restaurant months before our coffee date; she loved the food and loves him dearly now. And she now has the love of her life, the year before she turned 45. She is alive.
I love these women more than words will ever say.
Yesterday, we all needed a day together. Meri was in from New York for a business trip. Tita and I hopped a morning ferry and opened our arms wide to hug her at the end of the dock.
We didn’t do much yesterday. We ate a leisurely breakfast together. We went shopping at our favorite thrift stores in West Seattle. We drove around talking.
We stopped for tamales and tacos.
There’s something wonderfully exciting about new friends, the rush of stories we have never told each other, the worlds that open up by talking.
However, yesterday? (and for awhile.) I just want to spend time with the people who have known me through every wave of my life and still want to swim to shore.
There is no happiness like sharing a bowl of chips and guacamole with people who have known you for a long, long time.
Yesterday, Tita and Meri and I ended up at a Tacos Guaymas in Burien. It’s a small chain of restaurants in Seattle, taquerias actually. No one is writing this place up in magazines. However, they make everything from scratch, use no MSG, additives, or ingredients whose name you cannot pronounce. Meri loved the tongue taco. Tita loved the tamales. I love the fact that every time I go to a Taco Guaymas, I eat safely. Mexican food is mostly gluten-free, naturally. It’s not hard to avoid. Cross-contamination isn’t rife. This meal was made so much better by the fact I didn’t have to worry about growing sick.