They say when you meet a special someone, you just know. Usually, this is in reference to a romantic soul mate: someone who starts a fire inside your heart and keeps it burning for the rest of eternity. But I’m a strong believer that such a spark also happens between plutonic friends. You meet and you click; and then you know you’ll be partners in crime forever.
That’s pretty much how it was for me with Stephanie. We met at a significant crossroads in each of our lives. I had just quit my job after the PR agency I had been working for went belly-up quickly. Stephanie was in the midst of finishing her work toward a teaching degree. We were both feeling lost and trying to make ends meet, while still living a fun and fulfilling life.
One summer day I walked through the doors that Stephanie had entered only a few months beforehand. Chateaux was a darling gift shop in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood, and I was hired to join Stephanie as shopgirl extraordinaire. Unfortunately, just as we were hired, the business started slowing down. The loveable owner was considering shutting down the store entirely due to sluggish sales and a changing demographic of shoppers in the area. After dusting the shelves for 30 minutes, unpacking shipments for an hour and dealing with the occasional wacky customer, we still had several hours of time to kill before locking the doors at night.
I knew we were connecting as friends, but my initial spark for her was very focused: Stephanie loved music and she had awakened for me a renewed urgency to seek great tunes. In my pre-Chateaux days, I had fallen into the habit of listening to one of about 10 CDs over and over again. The jukebox in my brain was becoming increasingly limited and dated. With all that idle time on our hands at the store, Stephanie and I would take turns putting in new CDs, learning the lyrics to great songs and letting them become the soundtrack of the early days of our friendship.
I will never listen to “Chariot” by Gavin DeGraw without thinking of the two of us belting out the entire song (no customers in sight) while reorganizing gift cards. The entire “Songs About Jane” album by Maroon 5 takes me back to the time we rearranged a window display, only to realize the owner had a different vision for how the fancy shower curtains would be hung. Any song by Annie Lenox now transports me to our fits of giggles when we realized just how grossly flirtatious the UPS man was with us. (it’s really tough to take a man in a brown shorts outfit seriously.)
Jason Mraz, Bob Dylan, Robert Earl Keene, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys – these artists sang to us each and every day. I will forever be grateful to Stephanie for reopening musical doors and illuminating a passion for bands and songs that I had forgotten. But in learning the lyrics, dusting the shelves and spending more hours than we’d like to admit sitting behind the cash-wrap counter, we became friends.
Now more than six years later, we have introduced each other to more music, destinations, restaurants and fashion. We’ve supported one another throughout the big moments in our lives, such as pursuing new jobs, moving to new cities and – of course – meeting, dating, loving, hating, breaking up with and moving on from men. We are brutally honest with one another and can make the other laugh without saying a word.
Today, I live in Chicago. And Steph lives in Portland, Oregon. We often talk about one day moving to a place where we could once again live in the same city and see each other more frequently than once every six months. Until then, the modern world has given us the tools to stay connected. Sometimes we schedule “virtual happy hours” that consist of us making cocktails and talking on the phone for a couple of hours after work. Would it be better if we were sitting at our favorite dive bar sipping a frosty Fat Tire together? Of course. But we’ve found a way to become closer over the years – instead of further apart.
I’m going to visit Stephanie next weekend, and I cannot wait. I’m surely going to post a lot of good stories from that time, as we always tend to come up with some doozies. She is a true Juicy Olive, which means F-U-N is in store for sure!
Until then, I’ll remain forever thankful for all of my friends and for the friendships – like mine with Stephanie – that have withstood the tests of time and distance.