Last night I fell asleep to the Cheers theme song – the one that plays at the end of an episode. I’d already taken my contacts out and listened to Sam and Diane’s thinly veiled sexual frustration, peppered with Carla’s jokes, for twenty minutes. I don’t know the exact moment I went to sleep. No one marks sleep patterns in that way. I only remember smiling, thinking of my friend Lizzy… and waking up to a 5:21 A.M. alarm.
Lizzy and I packed a decade’s worth of friendship into one summer. It was my last few months living in North Carolina and we’d become best friends almost instantly. It’s been long enough now that some of the summer is a blur. I don’t think there was a stretch of days longer than a week in which we didn’t have a sleepover.
It was a weird summer. We were both going through tough (tough is not a strong enough word for what she was going through, but it’s adequate for mine) things in our lives and most days it seemed easier to share them with a new friend than those we’d known before.
Lizzy and I went to the mall. We went to the movies. We hung out at the pools where our families had memberships. We cooked endless cans of chef boyardee and easy mac in her kitchen. We went to the beach. We bought countless matching outfits and dreamed of one day owning matching Volkswagen Cabrios. We rode around in a rental convertible my mom had for a week and sang the moulin rouge soundtrack at the top of our lungs. We rode in the front of our softball coach’s truck to practice instead of in the back with the rest of the team, because her mom wasn’t comfortable with sending her kid off in someone else’s truck bed. I understood and I didn’t mind.
On the nights we stayed at her house we’d put on bathing suits and sit in her parents’ jacuzzi tub with the jets on, pretending it was a real hot tub. Jennifer Lopez’s “J to tha L-O: The Remixes” was our hot tub soundtrack of choice and it was as fun then as it is embarrassing now.
We played pool in her basement, but more often we played some ridiculous game that involved just shoving the balls across the table as hard as we could and watching them hit each other. We played this game until the moment two balls connected around my pinky finger and gave me my first-ever blood blister.
That summer Lizzy’s mom let her redecorate her room. Lizzy chose a pink and yellow combo that I thought was perfect, though that might’ve just been because I thought everything Lizzy did was cool.
Sometimes when I came over we’d stay in her room, but most of the time we slept in the basement. Her family had these blankets that Lizzy told me they’d used in her first home in Missouri. They had a white background with brightly colored hearts all over them. I loved those blankets. When life is changing, there’s an unspeakable comfort in things that have just been around a while.
On those nights in the basement we’d make pallets out of couch cushions on the floor and wonder aloud about what high school would really be like.
Lizzy and I had one summer of living in the same place.
That summer we both wondered about a lot of things.
Of all the nights I fell asleep with a colorful heart blanket draped over me, and the cheers theme song playing on the TV, I never once wondered if one summer would be enough to last.