After a few days of recovering with my family, I went to visit my friend Lara, who I have been pen pals with for (holy crap) 19 years. Wow. I am old now. We accomplished much on this short visit.
I took the train down to Baltimore. There was plenty of time to think about how much Lara and I have been through together, even though we’ve only been physically in the same place a handful of times. We met at a summer camp in Pennsylvania when we were kids. We found a match of whit in each other, a blossoming sense of pre-teen sarcasm that the other kids didn’t get (cuz they were a bunch of…geniuses). We quickly became inseparable for one week of camp.
After camp, I returned to New York, and Lara soon sent her very first letter. I sent one back, and the volley has continued to this day (with a bit of an upgrade to email and phone calls–remember long-distance calling? FOR THE BIRDS!). We wrote about the pit of dispair that is middle school, the turbulent waters of high school, the great awakenings of college, and the excitement and challenges of living as grown ups in the real world. For 19 years, we have been each other’s distant place of refuge when the worlds that we stand in become too much. We can write a letter or make a phone call, and the other will be there to read and listen. It has also been a true honor to watch each other grow into the writers that we are today. I owe much of my confidence in my own writing to Lara’s encouragement.
After a three hour tour of mid-Atlantic states, the train pulled into Baltimore, and Lara was waiting with a warm hug. When we got to her house, there were Andes mint-chocolate cupcakes waiting for me! Lara’s cat Toby, who is perhaps more cynical than the two of us combined was even somewhat happy to see me after a while, and allowed me several minutes of petting.
Though most of the visit consisted of us talking, gossipping, and reminiscing, we did manage to fit in a few other worthwhile activities. We watched The Muppet Movie, which was awesome. We met Lara’s friend Bethany for some seriously fantastic Indian food in a strip mall. Bethany told us all about her upcoming trip to Disney World, where she planned and entire vacation around restaurant reservations and a “cupcake crawl” (a girl after my own heart). After dinner we went to Bethany’s house and payed with her three ferrets, also thoroughly amusing.
After 48 hours of trying to out-wit each other, Lara drove me to the airport for the next leg of my adventure. I’m looking forward to the next time she (and hopefully Bethany!) will come visit in Seattle so that I can show off my favorite cupcake places.