I just got home from Gatlinburg and while I do want to dedicate a post to what happened there to me spiritually and with my friends, right now my mind is occupied with something else...
Every year- for the past three years, anyway- my youth minister has taken my group to Gatlinburg. We stay in the same bed & breakfast-y motel, eat at the same restaurants, and go to the same places. She usually leads the devotions, but this year we went to the Xtreme Conference- which was awesome. The planner in me loves this. Every year, I know what to expect. I love that. And because I'd been to the conference before, I knew what to expect there, too. I was setting myself up for success when I left Sunday morning. Read my post right before this- I was so excited. That was Saturday night. Sunday morning, I was still excited, but the closer I got to church, the harder it got to hold back my tears and I wasn't exactly sure why I felt like crying. By the time we were loading up the luggage, it was impossible, and so I headed the every crying girl's refuge in a public place- the bathroom. My friend followed me, and I attributed my tears to the fact that this was possibly the last retreat I'd attend, after 5+ years of attending almost every one. And while that was a part of it, I think, that wasn't really it. Everything was the same. Except one thing: my best friend wasn't there.
Now, I promise, I'm quite independent. While I love my best friend being my accomplice and partner in crime, if necessary, I can and will do things on my own, and I have gone on many a retreat without her. Besides, I had plenty of friends who were going on this trip. That wasn't the issue. Had we been headed to some place- any place- other than where we were, I am almost positive I would have been fine. But we were going to the place that she had been with me several times. The place memories were made and things were discovered that changed her -and thus my- life forever. And I was going without her.
My tears quickly dried, especially after a pick-me-up text conversation with said best friend. But I couldn't shake the nagging feeling of sadness. As we rolled into the familar streets, the memories were so strong and present and overpowering that I almost cried again. Ask my best friend the last time I cried for such a stupid reason twice in one day. Doesn't happen often- ESPECIALLY not in front of people. But I couldn't help it. I walked down the sidewalk where we created the "I'll be your strength when you can't walk" tripping scene. I ate at the restaurant where we simultaneously began singing the same lyrics of the same song out of nowhere (that really did happen). I went to the same shops, and sites, and stores. But she wasn't there. Oh my gosh, how many times I turned to remember something and she wasn't there!
The worst part of the memories, though, I think, was remembering what happened there. That was the place- that was the hotel- that her life changed. That was where that awful part of her life began and that was where I started watching her. Our relationship changed, after. My views and outlooks changed because of it. After that trip, she slid. She was broken. She's okay now, and I know she's stronger and better and smarter for it. But because I love her, I wish I could have protected her from it. But I couldn't. I just had to watch and try my best to hold her when she needed it, back off when she needed it (something I suck at, sorry), and pick her up when she needed it. And now, even though I know the stronger, better, smarter thing, I try to protect her. I can't help it. When I know something's wrong, I keep my nervous, loving eyes on her because I want to try to stop whatever it may be. Even though I know I can't. And sometimes (maybe alot), that's annoying to her. Sorry, again.
But if she's reading, I'd like to say, that this trip without her taught me a lot about who we are. It taught me that when I leave, and I go days without her- I'll have my memories, and they'll keep us going until we can make new ones. It taught me that I know her better sometimes than I know myself and that she knows me better than I know myself, too. I realized that this is the sort of friendship that lasts years and years because it has already. I realized that a major part of who I am is being her best friend- everyone else knows it, too, because although it was annoying, several "this is where me and my best friend..."s slipped out. A lot more of them went through my head. I learned that things will happen to us, and that as we get busier and farther apart, we won't be able to immediately tell the other, but that's okay. The important stuff gets across. And I know that when I hang out with her this weekend, the little details of our time away from each other will be told thoroughly.
Right now, I'm not sure where she is, because I just got home a few hours ago. I'm gonna do some laundry and take a shower and hit the bed because I've slept a total of 16 hours in the last four days, but my mind and my heart is with her. I know she's accepted what happened, but this weekend I rememebered, and it made me think about our friendship. I looked back over the miles we have traveled and saw how far we have come together- and that there's so much ahead of us. One day soon, it won't be four days without each other, it will be four weeks or four months. But here's what I know that I know that I know- she's my best friend. I'm hers. There won't be a day when that isn't true. Because whatever life gives us, we get through it together, whether that involves crying, laughing, or a dose of reality only a true friend can give. And I love her.
Another blogger said it best:
"...this is what being a grown up is all about I am learning. Yearning for something passed, currently living mundanely, missing something so feverishly that you didn't realize at the time you should be fully reveling in. I don't remember hearing anyone hollering ready or not..."