As soon as the bell rang after a long day of sixth grade, I’d usually head straight to my friend Rebecca’s house.
A solid two-story giant, the house showcased white shutters and more than enough rooms to build forts and jump off beds.
Rebecca’s parents always stocked the fridge for us with, among other items, little cheese-filled hotdogs.
Most days we’d down a few of those and hop straight out of the kitchen and into the enormous pool in the backyard. That pool was the best, and so was Rebecca.
Last week, after teaching for ten hours, I stumbled into the airport in Oakland to board a plane back home to Southern California.
I wanted nothing more than for Chris Hemsworth (Thor) to appear and gently pick me up and carry me to the terminal.
Feeling sorry for myself, I wondered if a pizza could cure my exhaustion, when I looked up and saw her.
My beautiful friend Rebecca beamed and waved enthusiastically from Gate 24.
She was there just like she said she’d be, to fly back with me for a fun girl’s weekend. Her luminescent brown hair shined over her soft shoulders.
Rebecca’s smile, as always, took me right back to third grade when her family moved to Northern California from Illinois.
I was one of the first Rebecca introduced herself to at Oak School. Approaching her, I felt lucky for that.
Rebecca and I caught up on the plane, and I wanted to kick myself for all the stupid, pitiful thoughts that ran through my mind twenty minutes prior.
Rebecca is such a positive fixture in my life, someone who inspires me to be a better person. I wondered how I could have been a grouch for one second, knowing she planned a trip to come and spend three days with me.
Listening to her tell stories, catching me up on her life, I committed to turning my attitude around so I could better appreciate the gift sitting beside me.
My friend’s enthusiasm and drive got us to the beach, Thai massages, BBQ in Venice, a showing of Argo, shopping, The Getty Museum, a sweet Italian dinner downtown, her friend’s motorcycle shop, and a vintage fair in the hills.
I’m embarrassed to say I did more this weekend than any other weekend I’ve lived here over the past year. She really did get me out of the house.
Staring at Rebecca dive into a Wally Lamb book on the beach in Malibu, I remembered how special meaningful friendships are.
A partner can give us a lot, but they can’t possibly provide everything. That is why friendships are so incredibly important, especially ones that bloomed in childhood.
Rebecca understands everything I’ve been through. She knows what hurts and what makes me laugh. She was there at that seventh grade dance when I got my first real kiss.
I remember the time she slipped and fell on the diving board, and she remembers that summer I turned my hair orange using a little too much Sun-In.
Rebecca inspired me when she earned her MBA, and explains a lot of random topics to me when I don’t understand. She is wicked smart, but never makes me feel dumb.
Packing up to move back to Northern California, I opened a box recently and found a drawing Rebecca gave me when we were in Junior High.
In Language Arts, we were reading To Kill a Mockingbird, so Rebecca did a play on the Nike slogan, “Just Do it.” She drew the Nike swoosh, and wrote, “Just Boo it, Radley,” on either side of the symbol.
Only Rebecca could think of something like that. I can never throw that thing away, because it makes me laugh too hard.
It is with extreme gratitude that I write this as a reminder to everyone. I believe we should all make efforts to check in with our dearest friends.
Call and really listen to their struggles and triumphs. Plan lunch dates and trips to see each other. Spend any moments you can together, because that time is precious.
We are lucky to have even one best friend. It’s important to recognize deep friendships are a gift that should be embraced and cherished.
A weekend with Rebecca reminded me to cherish mine, even more than I already do.
Image credit: ExpressionsWallArt on Etsy