I spent dinner last night with five girlfriends that I don't see very often. I grew up with these ladies in the countless hours I spent at the dance studio, Bible study, church, their cars, backyards, and homes between the ages of 13 and 21. They were my traveling companions on my first long, parentless trip away from home. These were the ears that heard the "first boyfriend" stories, the faces that reflected surprise from across a tap class. These were the arms that offered sympathy in the dressing room after a hard class, the voices that lifted prayers and the hands that squeezed back understanding. These were the eyes that danced for a million inside jokes, the legs and knees and ankles that I came to know as much as I knew my own.
There's an ease with people like this. There's no effort wasted in establishing yourself in conversation--they know you and love you immediately for who and what you are. Last night was comfort and joy, and I wrapped myself up in it. We sipped Sangria as the sun set and laughed together as we caught up on children, hardships, and careers. I love an evening out where I don't notice a single person outside the table where I'm sitting. (To that end, I am sure we weren't the favorite table of the other patrons of the restaurant. There may or may not have been belly laughts and a few loud "y'alls" coming from from our general direction. Oh well.) Time flew. At one point I could feel Lis next to me just trying to absorb the experience like a sponge. She sighed and said something like 'I'm so happy.' Me too. I was sad it had to end.
I don't see these ladies often anymore; I may not know the daily details of their lives, but I know them at their core and I'm grateful for what they offer in my life. Our group last night represented a gathering of beautiful women, all of whom I continue to be grateful to know. The reason for our dinner was Sarah's trip from Texas. Sarah has such a kind heart and is a gifted choreographer whose choreography reflects all of the kindness and love she has in her soul. She choreographed a beautiful dance that we performed at three of our group's weddings. Megan (to our pleasant surprise) made the drive all the way from San Francisco just for dinner last night. Megan is one of those easy people to be around--my entire extended family adopted her because she and Lis were joined at the hip for so long--and as she has grown she's become successful, cool, and an even better version of herself. Christina, my best friend from high school and beyond was there with her newest baby, Owen. Christina has strength of conviction like no one I've ever known. She believes in excellence in her life, her teaching, and now in the dance studio she co-owns. Christina was my other half for so long that I feel like she and I don't even have to communicate verbally. She can read me because she knows me so well.
Devin (who lives only blocks from me, but still I never see) was there too. Devin is one of the busiest people I know, and has been since we were in high school. It seems like she's always worked 14 jobs. She has a work ethic like you wouldn't believe, and she too is an amazing choreographer. She never seems grumpy or tired, even though she stares down five classes of high schoold dance a day. I'm in awe, and I've always felt inspired by her. Finally, my sister, Lis was there too. I guess she's the exception to the "people I never see" rule, but I was grateful that we could share the experience last night. We're lucky in that we could dance together and get along (most of the time) and now she is the person I call when I need to vent/complain/talk/be entertained. Every day. She's so good to me. I know she feels the same for these ladies as I do, and I am incredibly lucky that we are both able to be a part of this group.
I always leave these things thinking that it's a shame that we don't see each other more often. The honest truth is that it will probably be a while again. Fortunately, Facebook has helped me to stay in much better contact with a few of these ladies, and I'm grateful for that. There were also a few friends who couldn't be there with us last night, and I felt their absence. Hopefully we can all be together soon. It was a great night.
(No pictures yet--I'm waiting on Sarah to post them on Facebook and then I will add them.)