I'm sitting at a computer that isn't mine in a city that used to be mine at 11:06 PM (which we all know is way past my bedtime), filled to the brim with food I didn't cook on a plate I didn't have to wash, and I've spent the last three hours pouring out my heart and more than a few laughs with my dear friend, Ang.
It's a mini dream vacation.
Ang is that friend who is so a part of my life, I don't actually remember life before her. I will often reference something about my wedding to her and she will have to gently remind me that she didn't know me then, and thus wasn't in attendance. It seems odd to me that she wasn't there - she was a part in so many major life events. She offered to be a back up for Mark in the delivery room when I was pregnant with Jude if Mark needed a snack, or more likely, fainted. (He handled the birth bravely and with full consciousness.) When she finally came up to meet my new son, she got an eyeful as I tried air drying as a possible solution for a difficult start breastfeeding. Loving on my boys is as natural to her as breathing, and when the day finally came for me to drive away to our new life in TN, she was the last face I saw in the rear view mirror. While there were a few tears (she had just learned she was expecting her first child, and it broke my heart to miss a minute of that whole experience), we both had no doubt that we would keep in touch. It's just who we are.
We are both blessed to have amazing friends in our separate worlds. I love her people for being present when I cannot and loving and serving her as I wish I could. She knows all my friends and their stories, and in that way we have each gained an extended family. Yet there is something amazing and unique about my friendship with Ang. No, I don't remember ever having an argument with her. We enjoy a lot of the same things. We are both really, really funny (modest too...). But what I think is the most special thing about my friendship with Ang is that we are each other's biggest cheerleader. Our conversations are filled with encouragement, gentle prodding, full support, grace, and so much laughter. I refer to myself as the president of her fan club, and I hold on to her grudges so long she has no idea who she was angry with or why. She is my "dork keeper" - a rough translation of a word spoken over her on last year's annual Ann and Ang trip to IHOP in Kansas City (International House of Prayer, although we also hit the pancake place while we were there). She is a door keeper - a welcoming heart to the very core of her being. She is safe, she is kind, she is funny, she is compassionate, and although we joke about having a "no growth" policy in our friendship, she is the epitome of iron sharpening iron.
This weekend I am on a mini vacation at Ang's house. While we talk on the phone most every day, there is something so terrifically enjoyable about three hours of uninterrupted conversation. We have laughed (we are really good at that), teared up a bit, shared things you really don't want to know about, and, in a testimony to her devotion to me, Ang even shoved her finger up my nose to help me through an especially awkward "incident" with my nose piercing. (So perhaps "dork keeper" is also accurate...) I am sitting at her computer while she folds laundry and watches TV, chatting back and forth with no filter or fear.
I am so thankful for my friend, Ang. I hope you all have THAT friend. It's the best kind of friend to have.