Divine Inspiration & Sloppy Joes

My friends tell me I have ADHD. I prefer to think of it as divine inspiration. The most random statements can send me off on a wild tangent, leaving me chasing thought after thought, usually to some philosophical end. Lately, a sloppy joe recipe has made me sentimental. I know, I’m a mess. (Ha! No pun intended.) I’ll get back to the sloppy joes part shortly and as a bonus will post the recipe in a separate post. Oh, you’re welcome.

Now please allow me to take you on a trip inside my mind.

Background: My husband and I have been very blessed to have an incredibly deep 20+ year friendship with another couple. These are the types of friends with whom you have truly experienced life. Our friendship is a coming of age story spanning high school and college graduations, weddings, babies, all major life changes and challenges… Each of us lovingly refers to the other couple as “our other half.” We have surpassed the bonds of friendship and have become family.

So let’s refer to them as “B” and “R” for the sake of internet anonymity. Now back to the sloppy joes part, where our trip begins. B & R came over for the Super Bowl several weeks ago. We were making plans during our kids’ basketball game when they suggested I make my sloppy joe recipe none of us had eaten in nearly 20 years. I’m sure my eyes glossed over as I was suddenly nostalgic. A tsunami of memories came over me. We’ve been through a lot together! A LOT.

My mind sped through memories of bar hopping and 2 a.m. breakfasts, playing with each others’ kids and dinners at each other’s houses where they always provide dessert and we provide the “drinks.” Then I settled in on my all-time favorite memory. We were at B’s apartment before any of us were married. We’d all been drinking and R had passed out in the bedroom. B’s makeup was swiftly brought to the bedside and we got to work on his face. Out of nowhere, he rose to life quite literally with a “roar” and chased us out of the bedroom. He managed to grab me from behind and we toppled to the ground in the hallway. When we went down, I landed in his hands which were cupping my boobs, one in each hand. Because I was laying on his hands (and we were drunk), he couldn’t get up; and I couldn’t get up because of his weight on top of me. We thrashed around on the floor like two worms on pavement (him looking like a drag queen) screaming and laughing for several minutes before being able to finally get up and breathe. I think this was the night my bond with R was truly sealed.

Next, my mind quickly cataloged snippets of our milestones. Graduations, bachelorette parties, baby showers, baptisms (they are our kids’ godparents and we theirs), school carnivals, birthday parties… My mind slowed again and I pictured R handing me their car keys during their wedding reception. While B & R took to the dance floor, we went out to their car where I queued up “Wish You Well” by Bill Withers on a CD I had made them while my husband and a few others decorated the car. The love and happiness I felt for them that night was almost overwhelming. It was one of the first moments in my life realizing we had arrived at adulthood. Even then, I didn’t have a clue what our future held.

Sitting there in that gym, completely missing the basketball game, my mind was still reeling and trying to sort out all of the scenes and emotions hitting me at once. I suddenly longed for our Christmas tradition that has since fallen away of decorating their tree together. It started the year R failed to follow B’s suggestion of replacing the tree stand. She had told him repeatedly it was broken and would he please go buy another one. He was convinced it was fine so we reluctantly decorated the tree using the broken stand. After completing the tree, we were sitting in the living room talking over glasses of wine. The tree was in my peripheral vision. As we conversed, I saw the tree start to go. I swear the whole thing played out in slow motion. Frame by frame, I rose from the love seat with my arms outstretched yelling, “NOOOoooo!” It was falling toward my husband who turned to look toward it (in slow motion, remember) and instinctively reached out his hand in a tiger claw to try to catch it, but there was no hope. The tree crashed to the ground sending pine needles and chattered glass ornaments across the hardwood floor. Water dripped between the floor boards into the basement. B immediately burst into tears while the rest of us stood there with our limp arms at our sides, our mouths gaping, wide eyes staring at the scene before us. My husband consoled B while I poured her another glass of wine, and R dutifully went to the hardware store to get a new stand. And the tradition was born. For the next 8 years or so, we would decorate their tree while drinking wine and listening to them argue. It was beautiful.

Taking wild dips and turns, nostalgia took me to 2007. There I was in labor with my first baby. B had moved from my bedside to the vinyl covered window bench of my delivery room, slightly behind my mother. My husband was on the other side of my bed. I clearly remember her being the first one to recognize I was no longer in the mood to chat and I needed everyone to shut the hell up as the intensity of my labor increased. I remember being both relieved and awestruck when she suddenly took charge of that hospital room in the most subtle, graceful way. Peace fell over the room as she signaled to some and removed others with the most beautiful gentleness, allowing me to focus on the pattern I was visually tracing on the wall.

Amazing how the heart and mind work. Tears suddenly welled in my eyes as I thought of going to their house the morning after B’s brother died. Knowing there was nothing I could say or do to ease her pain, I knew my role was to simply be there and get her packed for her flight. The task assigned to me was to locate and retrieve her suitcase while she showered. That damn suitcase couldn’t have been in a more inconvenient place located high on a shelf in their garage, wedged between other items. But I knew I had to get it because she needed me to. Failing to complete the task was simply not an option.

The memories have continued in the weeks following the Super Bowl. Just yesterday I was literally laughing out loud at something I can’t even recall now. But there you have it. That’s what it’s like to be in my head. Creepy, innit? All that from B saying, “R has been craving your sloppy joe recipe. We could do that…” Yeah, we could do that. And we could wear ourselves out walking down memory lane while we eat. There is no way I could recount every memory, nor is it necessary. Although it is fun to tell a few stories here, our full history is written on my heart. The gift of their friendship is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

So here’s to all of us! To you and your friends; to me and mine. And, shall our paths ever cross, you and me. You bring the dessert and I’ll bring the sangria! To friendship! Salud!

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