by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
My longest-running BFF turns 50 today. She's in Italy for several weeks, celebrating. I was invited to meet up with her there for at least part of the trip, but when you have a 10-year-old and it's only a month into the new school year, it can be tough to get away. So instead I'm sitting here writing her this blog post.
L and me have been friends for 33 years. We first met at a high school dance where I informed her I felt like a peach. (Don't ask. It was the '70s. 'Nuff said.) You wouldn't think that'd be enough to launch a lifelong friendship, but there you go. I was a peach, in the moment, and we were off and running.
We were unlikely friends from the start. L was a year ahead of me and positively stunning while I was somewhat less than. L had Jennifer Aniston's eyebrows before Jennifer Aniston even dreamt of them while I was, I guess you could say, a DPFF - Designated Pretty Fat Friend; you can interpret that "Pretty" as you like. But somehow it worked, maybe because of my whole peach thing.
We wound up going to the same college and even roomed together for a while. If one of us went home for the weekend, we'd spend Sunday night talking for hours, catching up on every minute detail of what had gone on in the 48 hours spent apart.
Then one and then the other of us graduated. People got married, she moved five hours north, then eight hours north, eventually moving most of the way across the country.
And somehow we stayed friends, through time and space. This is rare for me because I'm a lot like the Elizabeth Bishop poem: I have a talent for losing things, particularly people; give me half a chance, I'm sure I could lose a continent. But I've never lost L. As I'm writing this, I'm wondering why that is.
With books, particularly back when I was a paid book reviewer, it's always been easy for me to articulate why I dislike something, why it doesn't work; far less easy, for me at least, is describing why something does work. But here goes anyway.
For 33 years our friendship has worked because L is smart and challenging and kind and good and funny and fun to drink with and beautiful in the ways that matter most and better adept than I at preserving a guy's finger in a glass mug filled with ice when it's somehow severed in our door - true story. Mostly, though, I think it's that for 33 years, despite the occasional rocky moment, we have managed to love and support one another unconditionally.
Recently, my 19th book was published and over the course of my writing career I've seen certain themes emerge in my work regularly that apply here.
1) When you really love another person, you want what's best for that person, not what's best for that person in relation to you.
2) When you really love another person and you really know that person too, then having them around in a physical way - like living in the same town, state or even general region of the country - is a luxury, not a necessity. It's not a necessity because the other person has already given you the great gift of her voice in your head, talking you through life whenever you need it.
So here's to L in Italy. I hope she's taking in the sights, buying a leather bag at Freon, eating amazing food, drinking Prosecco - which I will do myself as soon as I hit "Publish Post" - and that if she ever needs a free meal she knows to say, "Eek! E un topo en mi zuppa!"***
Happy Birthday, L! Fifty years for you, 33 years for us, and all you've got is this post to show for it! (Well, hopefully a little more than that.) Thanks for everything.
And thank you, Girlfriends Book Club, for inviting me to join you here. I hope to learn more about friendship from hanging with y'all. I'll certainly be taking notes.
***"Eek! There's a rat in my soup!"