The New York City blackout following Hurricane Sandy taught and showed me a lot of things. The amazing resilience of the human spirit, the incredible comradery among strangers, and finally, how much life blows without electricity and running water. It was that last revelation which brought me to Boston as I attempted to escape a flooding city and seek refuge at my parents’ house for a couple of days.
And in the spirit of being home, surrounded by sport trophies, prom pictures and memorabilia of life past that I called up my high school friends for lunch. We have stayed in close touch through facebook and email throughout the years but it is rare that we all really can get our acts together enough to actually meet up. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was everyone free, but that everyone could make the effort.
But of course, life is not always that easy. One of the friends, due to her prior driving records and traffic violation incidents, needed her boyfriend to drive her in to Boston. The rest of us sent emoticons and exclamation marks via group text assuring her that it was fine. We would be happy to have him for lunch.
But, what followed next in our group chat, I was not prepared for.
Suddenly in a flurry of text message and emojis everyone was inviting their boyfriends. I sat staring at my cell phone dumfounded. When did this start happening? And more importantly why was I the only single one?!?!
Confused and alarmed, I half joked that I would bring my imaginary boyfriend or my cat as my date, and as the lunch approached that idea became more and more appealing. But what stung me more then realizing that I was the only single one was that we, as girlfriends, couldn’t have a lunch alone anymore. Was this the beginning of the rest of our lives as friends? Was this the new normal? I started to daydream about my friends future weddings, everyone sitting around at the reception in their bridesmaids dresses laughing and kissing their boyfriends, watching the bride and groom through love-sick glasses while I sat at the kids table drunk talking to my cat.
Fortunately for everyone, I awoke from that nightmare just in time for my friend and her boyfriend to pick me up for lunch. We had a nice car ride together and she even sat in the backseat with me to have a “one-on-one” conversation while her boyfriend chauffeured us in to town. And while it wasn’t completely the type of personal uncensored chats we used to have in the past, I appreciated that she made the effort to connect with me independently and separate herself from her significant other straight out the gate.
As we sat down to eat my other two friends and their boyfriend’s joined and we soon fell right back in to place. Catching up, laughing and chugging down mimosas, the group of us (boyfriends included) really clicked, and I quickly became at ease. Intrigued by front line stories of Sandy’s destruction, my role in the group quickly shifted from sad 7th wheel to battle survivor and New York City refugee. I was touched that they all really cared and were so happy that I had successfully escaped from Blackout Island, begging me to just move back to Boston already. And just like that, my perspective changed.
Attitude is everything. While the dynamics have shifted and the table has become more crowded, I can honestly say that I am genuinely happy for all of them, and, in turn not depressed about my current situation, or lack there of. Self-pity has done nothing for me in the past, and it was this lunch, this meal that forced me to confront the reality of my own singleness that really allowed me to be ok with it. My own stigma of the 7th wheel dissolved as I realized how lucky I was to be in a relationship, a friendship relationship, with girls like these for over ten years. As I get older it is becoming ever more apparent which friendships can really stand the test of time, which people really care and who I can count on no questions asked. And for me, those connections are invaluable.
The bond I have with these girls will last well in to our old age, boy friends come and go, weddings will be planned before we know it, but, at the end of the day, we still are the same friends we were back in senior year; ten years has gone by since we all met and we have only changed for the better, and I am very thankful for that. I only hope that a hurricane wont have to bring us together again and look forward to the day when I can bring my future boyfriend, or cat, to mimosa lunch too.
Thanks USDAgov for the photo!
Emily writes and works in New York City. She enjoys karaoke bars, flannel and going out to lunch; not necessarily in that order. Follow her on twitter @emilyarnow.
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