We met at separate times, one by one. Then field hockey brought us together and fortified a friendship for life. We’ve been a group of misfit friends since the 7th grade, the year 2000. For fifteen years we’ve shared each other’s secrets and remained each other’s home.
As college introduced us to new experiences, friends, and paths, our constant companionship turned into holiday reunions. Then with graduation our individual journeys took us to different states with different goals. Yet whenever we saw another or picked up the phone to chat, the gap in time vanquished and all that was left was honest friendship.
So 15 years down the road, with two marriages, one child, countless break ups, and several countries in between, the five of us reunited in Nashville.
Flying in from Hartford, Boston, and San Francisco we reunited near baggage claim, giddy with excitement for a girls weekend ahead. While we waited stories were swapped, catching each other up on recent woes and joys. Nothing was forced, just old friends sharing new tales. Soon enough, there were no more updates to give and Nashville lay before us – ready to be discovered.
The term Honky Tonk doesn’t give Nashville enough justice. Music City has plenty of country flare and alcohol flowing to make it a go-to destination. After brunch at Noshville and an afternoon beer at The Row, we readied for a night of live music at Bluebird Café. Originally our reservations left us divided at separate tables, but fate was on our side and the host gave us a large table next to the stage. There, newcomer to Bluebird, Kristen Kelly, dominated the night with her bluesy tunes about her cheating husband. Following a very entertaining show, we went to Nash-Vegas - neon signs and closed off streets funneled thousands of peoples into bars where live music is a staple. The night carried us to Winners and Losers where after a couple sets from a loud band we collectively decided to retire in our ‘European’ apartment.
An early morning led to a welcomed brunch back at The Row where a Tennessee spring warmed our winter-ridden bones. The afternoon brought us back to Downtown Nashville for shopping, music, and more good food. We wandered before we needed to meet for the Pedal Tavern event. When the sun began its decent in the sky, we boarded a bar on a bike to tour the city and enjoy a few cold beverages. It was a spectacle – with the radio jams, trashy bachelorette parties on board, dancing, and shouting – but the reckless fun was what we all needed.
Then as that hilarious ride ended we gathered around a picnic table to reconvene. There, the reality of our friendship became very clear. We are five very different women, bonded together with ties unknown, but certainly true. We come from different families, hold different values, and carry different dreams. We have our own individual obstacles to conquer, sins to forgive, and pasts to bury. No one’s joy or grief trumps another. Even with our differences, we know each other better than we may know ourselves. So sitting around the wooden picnic table, our secrets and worries were laid across it. Perhaps even more vulnerable due to a long day of cold drinks, there was no holding back. These women identified my deepest guilt and brought it to fruition before I even admitted it to myself. I stripped the layers I’ve grown to wear around my precious dreams, and released a fear that I never needed to possess. These five women know every part of who I was and who I wish to become. Although we are born from different waters, one thing stays the same – unconditional support for one another.
Audrey – my strawberry blonde friend who once hated me in middle school has known the deepest parts of my soul. She was my closest friend through the most awkward of my teenage years, trying to find my identity. I escaped my reality in her old colonial house, finding comfort I was subconsciously seeking. Our friends, boyfriends, and families changed over the years – launching a wave of uncertainty and susceptibility. However, with each alteration to the life we knew, the consistency and understanding of our friendship rang clear. For someone to love me at my worst will forever be my best.
Kristina – What began as a social acquaintance turned into something very real. This force of powerful family, social butterfly, and party animal came into my life like a whirlwind. Nights at the beach and the basement kickstarted a party that will not end. Passing years gifted us with epic stories, solemn secrets, and entertaining drama. Then there was a shift, unnoticed but significant, where our friendship became one so effortless. There are few people in this world that have so much and give as much in return. I know there will never be a dull moment in our reunions, and I also know that her loyalty will never falter.
Allie – Seventh grade math class brought us together and I know there will be nothing that tears us apart. We could not be more different from each other, but that is what makes our bond so special. Regardless of our upbringing, style, or political views, our values are the same and our support for one another is absolute. She keeps me grounded and gives me the honest advice I need to hear. She knows my sins, my dreams, my fears and loves me all the same. I envy her commitment and conviction, she is force to be reckoned with and I am so proud of her accomplishments.
Lauren – To love this girl the same even after the passing of Clover shows how much she means to me. We are soul sisters - never afraid to speak a brutal truth, always there to share our secrets to, and supportive of each other’s goals. Out of the many women I am friends with, she is my only other single friend. The last two standing and never happier to be so. We chat all day every day about nonsense and about everything. I am my most vulnerable with her as I know she will never judge me. For someone in such different shoes to easily grasp another’s reality is an invaluable quality. Her friendship is incomparable.
After the common thread of school, sports, and work are unraveled, all you have left are your true friends.
These are my oldest friends, my forever friends.