Tangled Lives / by Sarah Schwartz

Our bathroom counter is currently littered with face powder, straighteners, eye shadow, and six different kinds of brushes. The cords of Hillary & my curling irons are tangled together in a way that suggests a boy scout snuck in during the night to practice tying knots, resulting in what is now a braid of black and pink plastic cascading from the counter to the floor.

Lately, sights like these bring me a twinge of sadness, because I know the days of our things being tangled together are numbered. The day is rapidly approaching where we will need to go through everything from the kitchen cupboards to the boxes collecting dust in the back of our closets to begin the all together too symbolic work of separating our things. The tall green cups are mine, I think, from the care package my Mama sent when we moved into our first apartment, and I'm pretty sure the yellow throw pillows and the coffee table are hers. We've lived together for three years and have been best friends for five, and over time, everything from clothes to kitchen tools to furniture has become ours, rather than hers or mine.

Our stories are knit together in a similar manner; we are characters in each other's best anecdotes, funniest moments, and most important milestones. We are the keepers of each other's secrets and the carrier's of each other's sorrows---we've been each other's trusted companions through the thousands of little moments that have made up the past five years.

I was the one who prayed and rubbed her back until I felt the steady up and down breath of sleep on nights where fear wouldn't let her go, and she was the one who never stopped seeing me with her big, attentive brown eyes the year that sadness almost swallowed me whole. I was sitting right beside her the sunny afternoon she opened her acceptance letter to nursing school, and I wept on the other end of the phone when she told me Matt had flown to D.C. to ask her to marry him.

She's was the one who listened, my goodness did she ever listen, to all of the terrible first drafts that littered my path to becoming a writer. She's sat on the tailgate of a pickup on my Oregon farm, and I've slept on the floor of her childhood bedroom in California. And somewhere along the line, in the flurry of college exams, throwing each other birthday parties, Sunday morning trips to the grocery store, and favorite concerts, we grew out of our 18 year old kid selves, and became something resembling grown women.

And now it is time to separate our things.

In a few weeks she's beginning a new life with her first and only love, the boy who became a man right beside us, more unwavering and true of heart than anyone I've ever known. When she says her vows, I'll be where I've always been, standing by her side, clutching a bouquet, smiling and laughing and crying at what a beautiful day it is.

Some of those tears will be for the closing of a chapter so marked by love, and others will be out of joy for what lies ahead of her.

But most will be tears of gratitude for the gift of tangled lives.