We bond over French sea salt and pork belly, Nigella and sushi. We have cooked together, taken a cooking class together, gone on an eating binge on a weekend getaway in NYC together. But in the 13 years we've known each other, I never thought we would be running together.
We can't go an entire conversation without some kind of mention of food. Yet, 13 years into our friendship and we're talking pacing, injury prevention, and even a possible half-marathon in our future. Together. The big question of the week when my bestie came to stay with us was, Who are we?
As strange as the running part felt, it was also a natural evolution of a friendship that has seen so much over the years. We're the same people we were when we met 13 years ago - eaters, readers, and introverts, both. Only we're with different partners, on a disparate career track, and I have two kids.
In all these years, she had spent half of it in the same city as me and the other half in a town about eight hours away by car. When apart, we speak maybe once every three to six months, but yet when we do, it's like no time had passed. And I'm okay with that.
Socializing takes a lot out me. I'm the kind of introvert who is a home body. Who prefers a book over a night out. Who would rather clean my kitchen than actively seek companionship just to have a conversation. Who would rather clean the litter box than check my voicemail. And she is just like that.
So when we're together, neither of us feels the pressure to talk (although that often comes easily and naturally, except while we're running, when we both prefer to run silently albeit side by side at the same pace - gosh, can we be any more compatible?).
We don't have to entertain one another and we certainly don't try to impress each other. She has seen me at my worst, for heaven's sake. I am as myself as I could ever be around her, which - if you think about it - is pretty liberating.
And the best part? My girls adore, adore, adore their Auntie. When she's around, it's Auntie this, Auntie that. No one wanted me to read them a story, hold their hand, put them to bed, watch them twirl (or run, or jump, or skip, or count - and I should probably apologize to her for these dizzying requests). It was always their Auntie.
Despite being childless (by choice) herself, she is amazing with kids, and my girls are terribly smitten. She is the family we chose for our girls, and I feel like we had hit the jackpot with her. Even my two-year-old knows that, as she looked up at her one evening and simply offered, "I yuv you Auntie…" out of the blue.
My bestie, who is a reader herself, just like me, walked in with a box full of books for my girls when she was here last week. Only a woman after my own heart would do that.
It also took me back to all those times when we stood in lines that snaked the aisles at Borders (a bookstore, remember those?) so we could be one of the first people to get our Harry Potter fix, along with the other geeks at midnight.
When I saw my girls flank her sides, I'm reminded of the life before this. I remembered how she was one of the very, very few who stood by my side when everyone else ostracized me for leaving the life I could no longer live. For placing passion above obligation.
She didn't judge. She didn't persuade me otherwise. She listened. She understood. She let me live.
So here we are today - eating, running, living. 13 years later, like no time had passed. Yet so much has happened.
And it always feels like she's right by my side. Even when she's a few hundred miles away.
My dear friend, thank you for all that you are to me, and my family.