A few days ago my friend Jen texted to ask if we were still on for lunch that day. I blinked at the text, trying to remember what month this was. If I had a dollar for every time Jen's texts have saved my bacon, I'd have enough overhead to start up my own fizzy lemonade stand.
Lunching with friends is a rare event for me...you're more likely to spot a narwhal than see me lounging at a café, dwarfed by Jackie O. sunglasses, viciously stabbing a salad.
At any rate, there wasn't enough time to doll up so I pulled the just rolled out of bed, two days since a shower look, which should be coming to runways any day now. I programmed the address of the restaurant into my phone and it promptly led me to a landfill out in the middle of nowhere.
Franchement, that could have been the end of me. This is Las Vegas, you know. All the rumors are true.
Instead, I texted Jen my distress and she directed me back to civilization. She is very good like that.
There are so many ways to write this story, so many angles. I could regale you with my ineptness, with the frumpiness of my appearance, I could describe the brilliant spareness of the restuarant, I could rave about the nirvana that is Korean food on a chilly winter day. The Koreans know how to warm you up, dear reader, they know how to bring you in from the cold.
But what I really feel like talking about is my friends.
One was born in Korea and immigrated here in the 2nd grade. The other was born in Vietnam and was airlifted out the day the communists took over. When I listen to the stories of their childhood, of the sacrifices made by their parents to pursue greater opportunities in this country, I am filled with a deep respect. I also have my own generations who made sacrifices to come here. It's a legacy I think about often.
We sat there sipping mugicha and enjoying the crispy grains of rice sizzling against our hot stone bowls. We talked and laughed. Our children take music lessons together, so there is lots to laugh about. Jen ordered more kimchi. I tried not to be jealous of the fact she spoke in Korean. I mean, she deserves it, right? But the fact is: I am always jealous when someone speaks another language. Not bitterly jealous, mind you. Just...wistful to the point of being bitterly jealous.
One is a doctor. One works with musical instruments. Both run circles around me with their blinding competence, their multitasking and tapestry of schedules. It's amazing they let me hang with them.
They would bend over backwards to help me and I would do the same in return.
Yes, it's my friends I feel like talking about. When I think of what matters most, when I reflect on life's greatest gifts, certainly one is that of friendship. Of having good friends and being one, too.
I feel blessed when it comes to that.