I haven’t felt excitement like that thrumming through me since Israel. Post-grad is weird like that. If you’re lucky, you live in the same city as your friends, but if you’re not, you see your friends as trains passing you by, stopping briefly for a moment to catch your breath. Not being the lucky sort, I found myself seeing friends every few months, and getting updates every few days or weeks.
When Karen texted me on a random Friday, my life hadn’t changed much since I’d seen her in January. I was still (and am) sporadically applying to jobs and waiting for acceptances to grad school and still in the ever-long limbo that is this season of my life. She asked if I was free next weekend to come for the weekend. Cue the excitement. Through texting back and forth, I secured more details and a round ticket to New Haven, Connecticut.
While I struggle with the feeling that life is passing me by and that the best years of my life are going to waste as I live at home with no clue of what my future holds, every now and again, I’m grateful for the freedom. The freedom does include a dwindling bank account, it also includes randomly saying yes to seeing friends, and this by far was my favorite yes.
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February 17, 2023
On Friday the 17th of February (this blog post should’ve been up a while ago, but I digress), my dad and I haul over to Penn Station. I’m pretty excited because this is my first solo trip in a long time, and there’s something really sweet about hoping on the train with other strangers, your stories all tangled up with one another for just a moment in time. I also haven’t traveled with this train before, the Vermonter, and I’m a sucker for a delightful view. The scramble to a window seat is very brief, and I’m off, with a quick kiss to dad and a deep breath.
I don’t really feel lonely in this season of my life. It’s easy to feel that way. I had a friend confess that to me, that friendships are harder and no one’s reaching out the way you thought they would, and the time you spent with them is more memory than reality. I have my family, which helps take the edge off of loneliness for sure. There are people I miss. I miss hanging out in Bill’s office asking him questions that popped up in my brain. I miss Cata, who I can weave in and out of conversations with so instantly–it’s a gift I’d never even thought to ask for. I miss walking around Grounds and bumping into the hordes of people whose lives I don’t directly intersect with anymore. Sometimes I wonder how they are, and I hope they are doing well.
Back to New Haven.
On the train ride there, I listen to Beautiful Anonymous, one of my favorite podcasts. It’s an episode that I find fascinating. The caller is someone who used to be a monk, and now here’s more agnostic. I loved hearing about the life in the monastery and how it affected him. It was the perfect listen for the 2 hours it took me to get there.
As I call my dad to tell him I arrived at Union Station, Karen runs up to me with joy on her face. We hug and I’m so grateful to call her friend. She tells me about how she’s finding life here and the thoughts on her mind, and it hits me, that’s what I miss most. The people who I used to see almost everyday, their lives are no longer embedded in mine. I don’t get to hear the details and someone else does. It’s not envy, it’s just grief.
We eat chili as she makes a cheesecake for a Galentine’s party, which she calls Palentine’s but it’s mostly girls anyway. I ask her for thoughts on the Asbury Revival (which was my topic of obsession for the weekend), and she tells me. We slip over to a friend’s house and the Galentine’s begins.
The interesting test of a friendship is whether or not you get along with one another’s friends. It’s not that it would break your friendship. It’s more that it ends up revealing different aspects of your character to the other person. I love Karen’s friends. They’re a solidly, fun and chaotic reflection of her. After we play We’re Not Really Strangers, we dive into Would You Rather that gets deeper as we talk about relationship preferences and friendship gone wrong.
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February 18, 2023
The next morning, I awake and I stare out at the view. The light in Karen’s apartment is incredible, and it’s quiet because none of her roommates are home. I do my daily quiet time with a lovely cup of earl grey tea. I make the eggs and she makes bacon, and we sit down to eat. Then we bundle up to walk around Yale’s Divinity school. The architecture is very Gothic, and it makes me wish for my friend Will to analyze it for me. The Divinity school is pretty, with its own labyrinth for prayer, and a cute little chapel inside the library that I adore.
We sit in that space, and I tell her that she should go to Compline sometime. We leave Yale Div proper, and head over to Koffee? with a K. I get a chai with hazelnut, and it’s quite good. Wandering we find ourselves going through the majestic library and sit down for a little while on the steps of a building where people pass by, confused about the event that’s not going on (it was canceled, I guess). We talk about churches and politics, and all the things you do when you’re young. No denying it, we, of course, stroll by a bookstore, and are compelled to go inside. No books were bought by me on this trip.
We head home and relax on the couch watching, me for the first time, Parks + Rec, which is hilarious. I suggested, earlier, that we go to Chick-fil-A. She says it must be tonight, as Chick-fil-A is not open on Sunday. I was amazed at one, how quickly I forgot, and two, that the business model in America does not factor in rest to the detriment of the workforce.
We delight in Chick-fil-A, and I find out something about a lovely friend of mine, Paul Granger. We stroll Target, and I too think this is another test of friendship. One where you can really see how much ease there is in a friendship if you can find something fun about doing errands together. And so, of course, I wander off to see the cats on the Hallmark cards in all their glory. On our way home, we blast Ms. Taylor Swift’s Delicate, an incredible piece of art. We get home, scroll TikTok, watch a Madea movie, and head to bed.
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February 19, 2023
Sunday morning, we head out on a hike. She still ends up going to church, but my train is leaving by that time. We see the wonderful view of New Haven on the top of a hill. It’s East Rock Park, I believe. For lunch, we head to this pizza place that’s famous for its burnt crust. Frank Pepe Pizzeria. It was pretty good! I got a cheesy buffalo chicken pie, and I enjoyed it.
Around 3:50, we head over to the train station singing Upperroom’s Love Note, a song I devoured in my fourth year of college in the late nights writing papers in my apartment, and I’m grateful. We hug goodbye, say I love you, and I am amazed at how a person I really don’t remember meeting (we’ve tried and failed and tried to remember) has become a solid part of my life.
Who we predict to be in our lives forever are there only for a season. And who we could never imagine being part of our lives for more than a moment are there through it all. We can’t predict the course that friendship takes, but we can choose to cherish it for the gift that it is.
2 thoughts on “a story on friendship: a trip to New Haven”
I love making, having, and keeping good friends. They help us reflect who we are, and help us keep track of the changes in our lives.
Yes, good friends teach us things we could never know ourselves.