74: The Life of the Party

74: The Life of the Party

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

The Life of the Party

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

~Oprah Winfrey

I didn’t know what to do. So I cried. Hard. My housemates came into my room to find out what had caused my outburst. Liz and Stacey stood on either side of me, each with a hand on my shoulder or back.

“What’s wrong?” Liz asked.

“I can’t go to New Orleans,” I said between sobs.

Looking back now, I realize I might’ve overreacted a bit. But, at twenty, the prospect of missing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with my friends was devastating. Our school’s basketball team had just made it to the Final Four and all of my friends were going to the game. Up until that afternoon, so was I.

I had gone to nearly all of the home games, and a bunch of us traveled to follow the Orangemen during March Madness. After watching the team win the Elite Eight in Albany, New York, I was wicked excited to go to the Final Four. In New Orleans, of all places! It was going to be amazing.

We had the trip planned. Six of us would travel together — fly out Thursday to Mobile, Alabama, stay overnight, and catch a bus to New Orleans on Friday. We’d have all of Saturday to check out Bourbon Street and catch the semi-final games, tour around more on Sunday, see the championship game on Monday, and fly back Tuesday afternoon.

I had a brief presentation scheduled for that Tuesday at noon — part of a series of brief presentations each student had to make with only two scheduled for each class. So I figured I could reschedule mine, no problem. Wrong.

At class the Tuesday after the Elite Eight win — a week before my scheduled presentation — my professor announced no one could reschedule a presentation. No exceptions, no excuses.

I, of course, still tried. I had an extenuating circumstance. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My professor would understand. I was a good student, always in class with my assignments done on time. Surely she’d let me change this arbitrarily chosen presentation date.

Nope. She didn’t budge. I could come to class and present, or not and take a zero. At best, I’d get a B in the class. Not acceptable.

That’s what landed me in my room, angry and crying.

I had calmed down enough to explain this all to Liz and Stacey.

“Okay, so you have to be back in time for class on Tuesday,” Liz said. “Not a big deal, just leave Monday night.”

“Good idea,” I said. It wasn’t ideal — I didn’t love the idea of traveling by myself — but better than not going at all.

With that settled, Stacey left my room. Liz had taken charge of booking our trip, so she immediately went online to revise it for me.

“What time is your presentation again?” she asked.

“Noon.”

“So if we leave right after the game Monday night, we can catch the bus to Mobile at 11 p.m., get on a 6 a.m. flight and be back in time for your class.”

“We?” I asked.

“Yeah, of course,” Liz said. “I’m going back with you.”

That brought on more tears. Without a question or second thought, she planned to travel through the night with me. We’d miss celebrating, or commiserating, with everyone on Bourbon Street.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to ask you to do that.”

“You’re not making that trip by yourself. I’m going with you,” she said matter-of-factly.

I hugged her, grateful beyond words. We had been friends since the end of freshmen year and had grown fairly close over the past year and a half. But still, I hadn’t expected this. What a selfless act of friendship. And it turned into an even bigger deal when Syracuse won the championship. The minute the buzzer rang, we rushed out of the stadium, went to our hotel, picked up our stuff, and hauled butt through the partying streets of New Orleans to catch our bus.

As we waited to board, I turned to Liz, and from the bottom of my heart thanked her. I knew it wasn’t easy to leave. All of our friends were either celebrating on Bourbon Street or back at school. Still in our Syracuse gear, even people on the bus looked at us oddly, obviously questioning why we were leaving early.

I fell asleep at some point on the ride to Mobile, and don’t even remember the flight home. It all went smoothly, though, because I got back to school in time for class and I made my presentation.

We might’ve missed the party of a lifetime. But a decade later, that’s not what matters. That night I realized I had a friend for life. And I still do.

~Kristiana Glavin Pastir

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