Friday, August 5, 2011

Always Wear Sneakers to the Esplanade (Or, "Lessons I Learned From JKL")

Today I rocked the ultra-stylish "white sneakers while commuting" look into the office. But more on that in a moment.

My best friend of fifteen years, Julie, is moving to Florida next week. For those of you who don't know her personally, I am one of many who claim her as their best friend. This leads to bridal parties consisting of eight bridesmaids, with a few groomsmen standing up on her behalf as well, and countless others needing special honors on her wedding day. Julie is a connector. At her goodbye party last week, I lamented the fact that without her around, I won't have an excuse to see the many others in her life that I have grown attached to over the years.

We met on moving in day as freshman at Brandeis University, with dorm rooms across the hall from each other. Both of our roommates got there on the later side of the day, and I think we would consider each other the first official person we met in college. Over the course of the year, Julie spent a lot more time in my and Carol's dorm room than her own, and we were roommates throughout the rest of college. When she left for a semester abroad (remember how L-O-N-G those few months apart seemed then?), she spent hours making me a collage of magazine cut-outs filled with inspirational words and inside jokes. I still have it, and returned the favor years later, making her a 10 minute photo slideshow for her bridal shower.

We've had lots of adventures together over the years, but tonight one of my favorites will be revisited. In the summer of 1999, between our junior and senior years of college, I was already living in our rented apartment for the following school year. Julie had just gotten back from Israel, and we made plans to spend the Fourth of July together. Well, we at least agreed we were getting together, but the "plans" portion was undefined - very unusual for us. Somehow, we started the day at a Christmas Tree Shop (not really for purchasing Christmas trees, for those of you not familiar). We bought fancy plastic cups and a hammock, which we promptly installed in our living room. Because what college living room is complete without a hammock in it?

(I so wish I could track down pictures of that hammock right now. Although I was growing out my bangs then, so maybe not.)

Anyway, on a whim we decided that we would join the masses and head to Boston's Esplanade for the fireworks display. We figured out how to take the T there and when we arrived, the place was already packed. Somehow, we found a spot on a bridge, and sat there for hours with our feet dangling over the Charles River. A very annoying vendor was perched close by our spot, and we endlessly listened to him hawk, "Glow sticks! Get your glow sticks he-ah!" We commiserated with our neighbors about it, but didn't give up our prime location. Suddenly, and I'm still not sure how it happened, one of Julie's new Naot sandals, fresh from Israel itself, dropped into the river! There was a bit of pandemonium, and a small crowd assembled as Julie was forced to wade into the river and retrieve her shoe. We all looked around for the glow stick guy, who had mysteriously disappeared, just when we could have used one of those damn glow sticks to help reach the lost shoe. Julie got fairly wet, and despite hours of sitting in the sun, still had a damp shoe as we shuffled back on the T to go home. We kept looking for signs of radiation sickness from her time in the river, but Julie managed to survive.

Tonight we'll be heading to the Esplanade again, this time with our husbands and Hannah and Max, to watch a movie together. There is more advanced planning involved (we've had it on our Google calendars for months), and I don't think we'll be sitting that close to the river, but I've worn my sneakers, just in case.

Julie, I am so happy for you and Michael, and so excited about the new life you will be beginning together in Florida. I am holding tight to that thought, rather than acknowledging the lump that has lodged in my throat when I think about you being so far away. I think we're going to have to break our rule of not talking on the phone unless it's major news (engagements, babies, a few tragic moments), and I am counting on you getting a job that will allow our need for several email interactions each day. I am so lucky to have had you be such an important part of my life for almost half of my life, and definitely for the many important moments we've gone through together. Marc, Hannah, Max and I will miss you very, very much, and we can't wait to visit you in Florida. Preferably in the winter, when we're sick of shoveling snow.

Love you, Jewel.

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