(For Amy, Ann, Hillary, Katie, Monica, & Natalie)
It would take hours for us to be seated at a restaurant in this neighborhood on a Friday night without reservations, so we decide to try our luck at a local hotel. There is a lodge style lounge past the lobby that serves drinks, and after a few minutes of hovering near parties getting ready to leave, we claim a small wooden table that seats all of us with a few extra chairs pulled in tight.
It was one of those rare nights where a Hail Mary text of, “Plans tonight?” pulled us all together from our busy schedules and varied locations. Moments like this are hard won these days, with grown up jobs and masters programs, so we approach them with a little more reverence than we used to.
These are holy spaces, and we do our best to savor them accordingly.
The women sitting around me are my best friends from college, a band of sisters born of the tumultuous years of early adulthood. Young, broke, and far from home, our twenties created bonds between us that the word "friendship" doesn’t quite capture or do justice.
For years now, we’ve been the ones responsible to plan birthday parties, hold hair back when the flu strikes, and groggily answer the phone at 3:00am because we know we’re listed somewhere as emergency contacts.
We are intimately acquainted with each others sorrows and secrets, desires and fears—we are the first line of defense when the lies come calling, the scarce few who possess blanket permission to orchestrate a loving but firm come-to-Jesus moment when we start making stupid decisions.
For better or worse, we belong to each other.
But around this table tonight are a few new faces—not brand new, but new enough. There are boys in attendance this evening, of the capital “B” Boyfriend variety.
For now, they mostly just smile and laugh as they watch us catch up, talking in our almost secret language that is a mix of inside jokes, Beyoncé lyrics, and favorite memories. We are a sight to behold, I’m sure—me unable to finish a sentence because I’m laughing too hard telling the story about the cops shutting down our prom themed college graduation party, Amy doing impressions of Hillary the week nursing school kept her up for three days straight, and Natalie relaying the absurd events of her day student teaching with the kind of deadpan delivery that reminds us that she will always be the funniest amongst us.
These boys know they are on sacred ground when they are a part of these gatherings, and so for now, they take off their shoes and listen.
I like having them around—I like the way my friends light up when they come into a room, how their presence makes them stand a little straighter and believe in themselves a little more. And while I don’t know them as well as I’d like, I know they are good men by the way my friends are completely, wildly, and fully themselves in their presence.
More and more it’s looking like these are the boys, too, and I wonder if they fully grasp that marrying one of us means entering into covenant with the rest. I’m sure they know they aren’t replacing us, that our sisterhood has never been something to keep us occupied until they came along. But I don’t know if they have figured out that we’re not content in knowing them simply as “so and so’s boyfriend” or “so and so’s husband”—our biggest hope is that they become part of this, too.
They may not see it yet, but in our mind's eye, we are already picturing ourselves growing old together, gathered around many more tables like this one, over dinners and bottles of wine, holding babies and hollering at kids in the other room. We can see our hair beginning to gray as we celebrate anniversaries and career milestones, weathering different storms and planning our next adventures, creating new memories and laugh until you can’t breathe stories.
Yes, we can see it, the sacred spaces to come.
But for tonight, when they go to shake our hands goodbye, we’ll make sure to pull them into an embrace, and whisper just how glad we are that they could join us in the holy here and now.