Forty-three years ago my best friend from college and I sank a hundred dollars into a limping used car, packed a few essentials like our journals, hand-made flannel nightgowns, and our recent college degrees, and set out for NYC. We were small-town girls from Oregon out to see the world, and perhaps save part of it from unforeseen calamities.
We camped our way across the country, exuberantly savoring that long-sought glimpse of “the other side of the Rockies,” sometimes taking wild chances we probably shouldn’t have, while successfully sublimating growing concerns about survival in the Big Apple.
After a midnight arrival that was fraught with freeway terror, we landed in a flea-bag hotel where we slept with the lights on for fear of being murdered before morning or being eaten alive by bugs. As it turned out, we survived but many of our belongings didn’t. I think I was the one who left the window open in the car that the desk clerk conveniently told us to park around the corner. We were robbed of many of Cindy’s clothes, my flute, and a big chunk of our starry-eyed enthusiasm.
We doggedly hit the pavement in pursuit of work, while my father called regularly to urge me to come home, and Cindy began to know for sure that NYC wasn’t her bag. She got the first job that lucky for her, took her out of the city to Virginia leaving me still unemployed and without a roommate.
I stuck it out, eventually got another roommate, landed a good job with the New York Association for the Blind, and ultimately met the man whom I would marry.
Cindy and I have kept in touch all these years, enjoying an enduring friendship and bond that we’ll both jokingly acknowledge grew out of some common neurotic tendencies. So last week we left our husbands at home and revisited our old stomping ground. It was a triumphant visit. No robberies, no job worries, many shared grandkid stories, and lots of wry-humored, senior moments.
We handily maneuvered the subways and packed in a Broadway play, several museums, a little shopping, and countless laughs. And one thing we decided for sure. Long-standing friendships like ours are treasured gifts worth celebrating in a Big Apple way at least once every forty-three years.