“Compared to friendship, gold is dirt.”

I am rich. My bank account isn’t digit-heavy, but still I am rich. I have really good, really wonderful friends.

Meet some of them:

Juli. We met in 4th grade at “Our Lady of K-Mart,” as we used to call our Lutheran church. Although we started as rivals for attention and 1st chair (flute-players, both of us), we became friends and have remained so for **coughs into hand to hide the number** decades. Juli has seen me through all my phases.

Jennifer. “Guano,” as we called her after a winterterm class about islands made of bat poop, became my roommate during our freshman year in college. We were a tight pair in a group of friends calling ourselves the “Six Pack.” Jennifer and I thought it hysterically funny one night to invent Bread Cart Racing behind the rural grocery store. That night, as I recall, we also moved street benches into the middle of the brick Main Street, nearly peeing our pants with laughter (well, she probably really did pee, but I didn’t.) I tried living with her and her parents one summer before our junior year, and I was a disaster. Amazingly, she still loves me.

Lucy and Cheryl. We bonded over aisukohees (iced coffees with gooey white mystery fluid) in cramped cafes on the Hankyu line between Sannomiya (Cheryl’s apaato — apartment) and Tsukaguchi (Lucy’s apaato) when we all happened to be teaching conversational English in Japan. We laughed about bad teeth, ubiquitous umbrellas, and obaasans (grandmothers) who maddeningly walk in the very limited space in front of you ever so s-l-o-w-l-y. Living now in different states, we’ve stood up with each other at our weddings, and we keep trying to plan a second get-together at an onsen — this time a stateside spa.

Kim. I hired Kim when I managed a wacky workplace for adult education. She forgave me and quickly moved on to better jobs, and throughout the years we’ve stayed in contact. I can count on Kim, a mental-health professional (influenced by the crazy workplace? hmm…), for intellect, introspection and telling it like it is. We joke that while we started off political opposites, we are now meeting more toward the center.

Elektra. How many people can say they have a friend named Elektra? I met E also at the wacky workplace. We bonded over a bad breakup I had, followed shortly by the meeting, courting and marrying of Roger. Followed again by her meeting, courting and marrying Rob. We tried to conceive; they conceived. Our daughter was born, their son was born. Our son joined our family, their daughter was born. Sometime during all this birthing, her family moved to Philly, so we are more phone friends these days (come back to Colorado, E!).

Elektra and I met in New York City last year for a fabulous night of Mamma Mia! and an art deco hotel. OK, E, only the art deco hotel was truly fabulous. And I was NOT flirting with that waiter.

Zaina. Zaina and I have the same birthday. And we’re exactly alike, except for a few things. Her passports are Canadian and Syrian. She has a different birthyear (OK, OK, I’m older — not saying by how much). She is petite. She is multilingual. She is an extreme extrovert.

I met Zaina when Roger and I taught at an international school in Syria — she helped us navigate Syrian culture. She makes the best brownies ever, and we still talk to each other once a year, on our birthdays.

Rose and Michelle. Now we’re into my Mom Friends. Sometimes you fall into friendships because of your kids — the same ages or the same activities. But I enjoy being with Rose and Michelle independent of our little people because (1) the make me go to yoga once in awhile, (2) they, like me, complain about the tedium and chaos of momhood while really loving it, and (3) they drink Mojitos with me.

How did I get so lucky…so many times??

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