All the Way to Kalamazoo

I spent a long weekend on vacation in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Yes, it’s a real place, Kalamazoo. It’s hardly a hotspot for tourism, but my bestie, Molly, lives there, so Michael and I packed up the kids in the mini van and set sail )or in this case GPS) for Kalamazoo.

Whoa! Everything about that sentence is so … so … so grown up. When did that happen?

It started twenty years ago, to be precise. On the drive back to Kentucky from Kalamazoo, It dawned on me that this month is the 20th anniversary of when I met Molly. It’s always strange when you look back to one day, one seemingly insignificant event, and realize that your life course was set on that day. I had a private room during my sophomore year of college. That sounds cool, but it was anything but cool. The dorm had no air conditioning. August in Kentucky without air conditioning is a form of torture that any decent Supreme Court would rule as cruel and unusual punishment. Offering private rooms was how my school got women to consent to live in that particular circle of hell. In August 1994, Molly moved into the room next to mine. I was a year older than her, but she was decades more grown up. She taught me how to smoke, insisted that I stop tight rolling my jeans, and introduced me to Birkenstocks. More importantly, she introduced me to Michael. The rest is history.

Molly’s kids, born on the same day but exactly four years apart, were born on Michael’s and my wedding anniversary. Hey, it was a great day. Molly’s son is three years older than my son, but he’s following in his mother’s footsteps — offering unsolicited instruction on what is and what is not cool.

Since leaving college, Molly and I have never lived in the same state. We’ve visited often, but sometimes years passed without more than a few emails between us. The distance, the time, the lack of communication — it never matters. As soon as we’re in the same room, it’s just like it was in college, sans the cigarette smoke and Boone’s Farm. I think that with friends, the really close, BFF type friends, you get to be the best version of yourself. I wish I could be that around Michael and the kids, but there’s the day to day routine and the endless tasks and chores that keep a family running, and before I know it, I hear that familiar nagging tone creeping into my voice and I start feeling a line forming between my eyebrows.

Visiting Molly was good for me. It reminded me to quit taking myself so damn seriously. It reminded me that there is momentousness in the everyday. It reminded me that I am blessed to have a bestie, a patient husband, wonderful (if loud) children, and the smartest godchildren a person could ask for. It’s a lot to pack into twenty years. And it all started in a one-hundred degree dorm room on a college campus.

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