About four and a half years ago Natalie and I went to California together over New Years and we fought and laughed and went to the beach and ordered queso at a Mexican restaurant only to be brought shredded cheese instead and we took pictures and we drank Cristal and I sort of rambled on about wanting to be single but I was surprisingly excited when Mike called me for the first time during that trip and although Natalie also wanted to be single she rambled on about Micah—a friend of hers. They were just friends, she claimed. And she kept claiming that for a few months. But eventually the claims stopped, and she finally told me they were more than friends. And it didn't surprise anyone, really, but them. That was just over four years ago, when Micah and Natalie became each other's one.
I've known Natalie since we were eleven. I say that all the time, and she laughs when I do because is there anyone on the planet who doesn't know how long we've known one another? But at the risk of sounding entirely too dramatic, I say it as often as I do because life in general and my life specifically hasn't provided many constants. There are so few things I can really be sure of, and I don't think I'm alone in that. Life is sort of set up in such a way that the surprises are plenty, the certainties are few. There are a million times when this is good—the first time someone tells you they love you, watching the last few minutes of the SuperBowl, when you find out what your baby is: a boy or girl—but there are so many more times when you just want to be sure of something, you want to know that whatever sharp turn your life takes, you'll have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, a smile to reassure you. Friendships are our way of staying sane in a world that seems designed to make us crazy. But then we learn that even friends aren't guaranteed and those we invest in and care for can change in the blink of an eye, they can walk on without ever turning back. I've had plenty of incredible friends in my life—some are still here, providing me laughter and love and great escapes when Mike is ranting on about how I can't seem to keep our floors clean. But some are long gone, turned into ghosts by time and circumstances.
So when you've known someone for fifteen years—when someone has seen you at eleven, awkward with braces and bad hair and then at sixteen, thinned out by the beginning stages of an eating disorder and at twenty-one, a bit out of control and out of place and at twenty-five, trying to make a baby—it is something kind of remarkable because knowing anyone for that long who isn't directly related to you is rare enough but liking someone for that long is really something. And even though it's annoying, I know, to walk around declaring to everyone who will listen how long I've known Natalie, I just kind of can't resist being proud of our friendship on an unprecedented level. What would have broken so many didn't ultimately break us—the fights and the totally-wrong-for-us boyfriends and the growing up and the changing.
Natalie got married yesterday, in a beautiful mansion in the town we became friends in. After the picture-perfect wedding there was an after party at the hotel we were all staying at. We hung out and drank beer Micah had brewed himself and I reclined on a bed with Natalie's mom and laughed so hard, I was practically crying and then I stole a beer from her dad, and it was one of those amazing full-circle moments. When I thought of being fourteen, lounging on her parent's couch watching taped General Hospital episodes and then I thought of being twenty-six, laughing with her parents, all drinking champagne together. In every way except the technical way, Natalie is my family.
And, lord, she was a beautiful bride.
Nat Attack, it's all in front of us. It's going to be all we deserve and more.