Today, April 17, is the birthday of one of my bestest and most favorite friends in the world -- Liz. Though she lives ages away (across the Atlantic), she holds a special place in my heart that I feel each and every day. Our friendship is so strong and gives me a great deal of joy. No matter how long we go without talking or seeing each other, we always pick up where we last left off. She's a rockstar like that.
Liz and I have known each other for about 10 years. We met in college, and while she was always one of my favorite people, I feel we became closer in 2003 when I moved to India. She lives in England, and during my layover between London and Delhi, she and I met in the Heathrow airport for coffee. My move to India meant that we were both expats -- Floridians/Americans/lovely girls living in foreign countries -- which I think strengthened our bond. I visited her in England the following year for a few weeks, and she made me roobios tea every day and took me for sushi on my birthday, and we caught up on life, shared big ideas and life-long dreams, and went to Paris where we went to museums each day and fulfilled a goal on my life list -- attending the Moulin Rouge.
When I left India to return to the States in 2005, it seemed fitting to stay a couple of days in England during a layover, which meant that my amazing journey to India started with Liz and was now ending with Liz. She understood my heartbreak of leaving more than anyone, and our bond was perhaps strengthened because of it. To my great fortune, she visited the States only a couple of weeks later for what became the summer of Liz. While I was unemployed, we spent a tremendous amount of time together -- driving her grandfather's mini van on a road trip from FL to DC, tromping around the Tampa Bay area, two-stepping at a country bar in Ybor City, and picking blueberries and subsequently eating blueberry pancakes and blueberry pie with her folks in SC. It was a summer that I still have fond memories of and one I felt only made us closer.
Liz was in town just a couple of weeks ago. We did what we do best together -- we stayed up talking late into the night, ate good food, reminisced about our times together, and caught up on all that we missed while we were apart since our last visit in September. What she may not realize is that she came at a difficult time for me, one that had been hard due to a recent (though, temporary) disability with a herniated disc. I had been pretty down with the ups and downs of the healing process. It had become frustrating to work really hard for six months only to not be completely better. I felt my life wasn't normal at all. Instead of seeing friends and doing Yoga and swimming, I had been spending what bit of free time I had in PT, acupuncture, massage therapy and resting flat on my back when I felt pain (which was often). Even the little things like walking my dog and tying my shoes were really a challenge. Liz's visit came at a good time, as always, and gave me a lot of strength and momentum to continue working hard to get better (without surgery). She turned my frown upside down. She has always been a happy spot in my life -- one of the most encouraging, loving, understanding, compassionate, hilarious people I know, and her mere presence in my life picks me up when I'm down. And this time was no different.
So when I say she's the most wonderful birthday girl ever, I say it with a lot of compassion and sincerity. She's a gem -- a lovely gem that I'm so proud to call my friend. I'm so fortunate to have her in my life. Liz -- Happy Birthday. May your 32nd year be one of the best -- full of lots of laughter, joy, love, and friendship. Thank you for being you and for being such a wonderful, dear friend and for making my life better merely by being in it.