This Sunday, some of our very best friends in the world are moving to Italy for a year. I'm trying not to dwell on it too much. It's only a year, after all, and I really should be used to people coming and going at this point in my life.
But I'm not.
Making friends as an adult is no easy feat. As children, we go to class every day with thirty-something kids our own age who share similar interests: coloring, for example, or unicorns. Even in junior high and high school, when we have started to discriminate people based on their taste in clothing, or their unpleasant odor, we generally share commonalities with the people around us. In college, we all start over once again, this time living in the same building as people our age, with no grown-ups around to tell us we can't stay up all night talking about the latest episode of Dawson's Creek. Life up until adulthood is full of friend-making potential.
And then we grow up. We enter the work force, where we may or may not have a single thing in common with the person in the next cubicle, let alone time enough to get to know each other on a personal level. We have families, husbands and children who tell us we can't stay up all night talking about the latest episode of America's Next Top Model (the selfish bastards; who do they think they are?!). Throw the whole military thing into the mix, where you're destined to move every two or three years for the next ten to twenty, and it becomes almost inconceivable that we can ever make friends at all.
But somehow we do. We manage to find that one rare gem of a person willing to get Greek food and Baskin Robbins every single Tuesday while your husbands are deployed (and later, when yours is and hers isn't). Or the couple who has moved as many times as you have over the past ten years and you haven't seen in at least three, who wants to Skype with you even though it's six a.m. in Okinawa.
Or the couple who is willing to store a gallon of your breast milk in their freezer during a power outage without ever having met you.
Thus begins the story of my introduction to Mike and Alexis.
John and Alexis met at work. Not only did John take over Alexis's job, but they were the only Marines working in their office. They had both deployed with Hornet squadrons (John as a pilot, of course, and Alexis as an intel officer). They both shared a love of endurance sports.
Let me rephrase that: John and Alexis's then-fiance, Mike, shared a love of endurance sports. And so the epic bromance between Mike and John was formed.
But it wasn't until a fateful storm led to a power outage that I got to know Mike and Alexis. As any nursing mother will tell you, a freezer full of frozen breast milk is like a freezer full of gold. Those little six-ounce bags were freedom in liquid form, and I would be damned if I was going to see them go to waste. I begged John to find someone who would store the milk for us, and salvation appeared in the form of Mike and Alexis (actually, it was in the form of a freezer, but Mike and Alexis were the lucky owners of that freezer).
When we arrived at Mike and Alexis's house to pass off the goods, I was pretty much humiliated. Mike and Alexis don't have kids, and I think most men will agree that until you have experienced the whole breastfeeding thing firsthand, it's slightly intimidating (if not downright off-putting). But Mike bravely held open the freezer door for me, even rearranging some frozen waffles to make room. We ended up staying with Mike and Alexis for the next two nights (this was mid-summer, and without air conditioning our house was completely unbearable), and during those evenings, after we'd put Jack to bed, we sat around for hours getting to know each other. It's hard to believe it was only a little over a year ago. I feel like we've known Mike and Alexis for years.
Maybe it's because in the past year, we've shared some truly memorable experiences. Not long after we met, I found out that Alexis didn't have a bachelorette party planned. So, with Sarah's help, I threw together a surprise Cocktail Dresses and Cowboy Boots party for Alexis. There's nothing quite like booze and chocolate for sealing a lifelong bond between girlfriends.
We attended the Marine Corps Birthday Ball together, where we spent most of the evening snarking about the food and our lousy seats.
The boys raced together on several occasions, Western States in particular. I don't think John (or I) could have done it without them.
We spent a now-infamous week together in Deep Creek.
But I think even more important than all of our adventures is the fact that we don't have to be doing anything exciting to have a great time together. Even though Mike and Alexis don't have kids yet, they don't mind hanging out with ours (and that's saying something), or coming over for dinner on a weeknight and speaking in hushed tones after Jack goes to bed. Sometimes we go to their house for an impromptu Sunday brunch, and they always make sure to have something special for Jack (usually enough extra chocolate chip scones and raspberries to feed an army).
Mike and Alexis's bond with Jack is particularly special to me. They truly are like an aunt and uncle to Jack, and it's so evident in their interactions. I don't know what I'm going to say to Jack when he asks for Mike next week (which is bound to happen, since he talks about him every freaking day). And knowing I have a friend like Alexis here, who has actually volunteered to watch Jack overnight (I haven't been cruel enough to take advantage of her kindness...yet...), is such a comfort. I honestly don't know what we're going to do without them.
And finally, for the love of Jack, get a Facebook account! Otherwise you're going to miss out on Halloween photos of Jack in his bear suit, and I KNOW you don't want to miss out on that.
We love you guys!