Four years ago, on this very spot, I reiterated a sentiment that had first been advanced by Jimmy Buffett: I wish that lunch could last forever. I was referring to a rendezvous with my friend from down the street. She was the one who adapted her game of horses to include my character who was some version of kindhearted rancher or some such benign presence in order to include a boy in this obviously less testosterone-y version of make-believe. I was invited along on these flights of fancy because I was willing to pretend, to play "what if."
Four years ago, I lingered over my meal and stretched those refills of iced tea to savor the experience of reconnecting with a person who had accepted me when the boys in my neighborhood were busy making it harder and harder to be part of their crew. I remember feeling the embarrassment of ignoring my oath to the He-Man Woman Haters Club, or whatever fraternal organization I had unknowingly signed up for because of my Y chromosome. I needn't have worried, since all I felt on those afternoons spent in our front yards, creating and recreating worlds of our own imagination, was acceptance.
Four years later, when we got together for another marathon lunch, I was impressed once again with how easy it was to sit down and collapse into a friendship that had begun before we started school. A friendship that had transcended the slips and snares of puberty and all the ways that relationships could turn on an adolescent dime. This was the girl who showed up at my wedding and helped me pin my boutonniere on my lapel before I launched myself headlong into marriage. At that moment there was no one else who could have shown up and so readily shown me that kindness. It wasn't slippery or confusing. It made perfect sense.
Just like it made perfect sense to come back to continue that marathon lunch after four years, and make it last three hours, with the full and complete expectation that there would be another one just like it somewhere out there in the future. This lunch that allowed us to wallow in our past and speak easily about our present. And as for the future, there was only the mild expectation that we would do it all over again. Checking in and putting the pieces of our lives together again, with very little surprise at how well those pieces fit. A million years ago, it made me uncomfortable to think that my best friend might be a girl. As it turns out, that wasn't really a problem at all.