When a Sandwich Is More Than Just a Sandwich

Whenever Christina and I used to go to Friendly’s, I would always order a tuna melt. Most of the time she would, too. On our second road trip up to Maine in 2004, we drove my car and we took turns driving the 10 hours. We stopped for lunch at a Friendly’s somewhere outside of Boston, and we had our usuals. I don’t know why this meal stands out to me; we didn’t talk about anything special and nothing out of the ordinary happened. We sat in a booth and we chatted like normal, laughing and excited about our week away in exotic-to-us Bangor. We had big plans to lounge around her grandma’s pool and go hiking at Arcadia National Park and just relax.

ImageYesterday at work, we were discussing what to have for lunch today for my co-worker’s birthday. For whatever reason, I had a feeling she would choose to order from the diner and I thought to myself, “Ooh, I’ll order a tuna melt.” Immediately I was back in that Massachusetts Friendly’s with Christina and this overwhelming sense of longing hit me in the middle of the workday. I haven’t seen her in almost two years and sometimes it just gets very lonely.

I have plenty of friends, and a loving husband and family, but a best friend is someone who cannot be replaced. She and I could finish each others sentences, and I knew that no matter what, I could talk to her about anything. She always offered the best advice and seemed to just instinctively know when I didn’t need anything more than an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. In my experience, those people come along only once in a lifetime and they are to be treasured.

It seems as though I constantly have something I want to tell her, or ask her about, or reminisce about. It’s very weird for me to think that those times it was just she and I hanging out are now my memories alone. I can no longer say to her, “Hey, remember when we…?” and laugh about whatever stupid thing we did. I can tell the stories to others, but it’s not the same as retelling the story together with someone. Just last week, we were talking about Sweet Sixteen parties at work and I was thinking about my own 16th birthday. I didn’t have a party. My parents told me I could invite some friends to dinner and the movies, so I chose four friends and we went to the Olive Garden and to the movies to see “The Game” (with Michael Douglas, remember that movie?). I was trying to remember who was there and I realized that Christina wasn’t. I thought to myself that I would have to ask her why, and in that same moment, almost at the exact same time I was planning an email or a phone call, I realized that I couldn’t ask her anything anymore. Like I said, it’s been almost two years, yet my brain still sometimes forgets.

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