We cruised into downtown Raleigh and drove by a fancy restaurant. "This is it," he said.
"Ooh, this is a surprise. Doesn't look cheap, though."
We walked inside and I headed towards the hostess. "Burris," I said, "We have a reservation for two."
"Burris, party of eight," she corrected. We followed her silently; I assumed she meant that the reservation was for eight o'clock. But there it was, a table with eight places settings.
"Hey, uh, should we tell her that they made a mistake? That we need a smaller table?" I asked as she turned and left.
He leaned forward, elbows on the table. "Let's just say there are a few more people joining us."
"Wait, what? Who? Why? Is this for my birthday? THIS IS FOR MY BIRTHDAY. Who is it? Ugh, where's my lipstick?!"
I kept running my palms over my pants, nervously watching the door, trying to suppress a goofy grin. And in walked all my favorite people in the world, my sisters and brother-in-law and best friends, all of whom live at least a couple hours away. All of whom I've missed like crazy since we moved. We celebrated with wine and dessert and my heart was full. We went back to our apartment and stayed up till the wee hours, acting a-fool, picking up right where we left off.
I miss this - being surrounded by people whose quirks and sense of humor I know. People with whom polite conversation is totally unnecessary. People who don't think twice before borrowing my toothpaste. I've met great people here, people I've felt instant connections with, but it's not quite the same. We're still trying to figure each other out.
As they trailed out the door the next afternoon, I suddenly realized that I'm twenty-five. Which means I have known these people for ten years. Ten years. (Except for my sisters, of course.) And you know what's funny? It took us years to become close. Most of us were casual, say-hello-in-the-hallway friends for years in high school. And then, slowly, we began showing up at each other's birthdays and graduation parties, still trying to impress each other. Still polite. It wasn't until college that we truly became forever friends. Gosh, even Trevor and I were casual friends for five years before we dated.
And that kind of made me stop and think. Of course I can't move somewhere and make instant best friends. It doesn't work the way, the same way instant coffee just doesn't work. True friendship takes time, so much time, and isn't that something we'd like to ignore in this instant, "follow me and I'll follow you!" fast-paced world.
Time, patience, showing up. That's what it takes. That's what I'm willing to give. Because those forever friends who drive two and a half hours just to celebrate your silly birthday - they are the stuff of life, the people who make you realize who you are and who you want to be. They make it all worthwhile.