LUCKY CHARMS

LUCKY CHARMS

From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

Lucky Charms

Katie and I met on the first day of graduate school. We were paired to share an apartment, and became inseparable almost immediately. An unlikely pair at first glance—a short, tanned California surfer girl and a tall, pale Scandinavian ice queen—we had more in common than we initially expected. Katie was the youngest of our class, and I, an only child, had always yearned for a sibling. I quickly became Katie’s surrogate older sister, whom she missed terribly, and I finally found the little sister I never had.

Our friendship was permanently sealed that particular night when I was awakened by the creaking of my bedroom floor. The streetlight illuminated my room around the edges of the blinds, and I could make out Katie standing by my bed, in her little-girl nightie, sobbing uncontrollably.

“What’s wrong, Katie?” I shrieked, expecting the worst.

“I had a bad dream,” she sobbed. “Can I cuddle up with you?”

Dumbfounded, I lifted up the covers and made room for her next to me. She crawled in, and I, somewhat hesitantly, started to pat her back and stroke her hair until her sobbing seemed to calm and finally stop. Eventually her rhythmic breathing suggested that she had fallen asleep. I, still wide awake, suddenly realized how comforting it was to have her in my life.

Although, after graduation, our lives took us separate ways—initially to different coasts, and later to different countries and even continents—we were adamant about making our friendship work across time zones. Because we both were die-hard travelers, we easily fell into the pattern of meeting each other at exotic places around the world— and getting ourselves into all sorts of mischief along the way. Whether we were bullying each other into bungee jumping in New Zealand, getting our SUV stuck in the sand and subsequently being chased by baboons in Kenya, experiencing an earthquake in the Cascades or praying for our lives while riding a tiny Italian sports car through serpentine roads in the Italian Alps—somehow, we always managed to emerge safe and in good spirits. Nothing ever fazed us because we truly believed that we were invincible when we were around each other—we were each other’s lucky charm. Although we both had our share of disasters and difficulties over the years, just a visit from our lucky charm was usually sufficient to change any situation for the better.

A few years ago I was Katie’s maid of honor at her last-minute wedding to her longtime boyfriend. In true Katie style she told me upon my arrival that I was responsible for her hair and makeup because she could not find a professional to do it for her on such short notice. I almost fainted but she winked at me.

“Come on, girlfriend! We survived so many trials and tribulations together. You are not going to bail on me on this one, are you? You never complained about anything— not even when I forgot to pick you up in Lisbon, or when I got us lost in Morocco or even when I bailed on you with the term paper. So why are you so afraid to blow-dry my hair and to help me put on a little mascara?”

She was right. This was Katie, after all—who never took life too seriously and never conformed to rules unless she was entirely sure what purpose they were meant to serve.

As I walked down the aisle behind her we were captured on my favorite snapshot—Katie looking back at me. Light on make-up and heavy on natural beauty, with her long, blonde hair loosely framing her exquisite features and radiant smile. During our last get-together, a relatively subdued stopover in New York City, she excitedly told me that she and her husband had started trying for a baby. I, still single and electrified by the prospect of becoming an “aunt,” did not realize until my flight back home that this might actually be the end of our carefree existence and of the main chapter of our friendship.

Although still very happy for my dear friend, I suddenly felt lonely and ancient. The memories of our trips and our laughter came flowing back to me, and I couldn’t refrain from crying. I was angry with myself for feeling this way. “Change is good,” I told myself, and “we need to move on with our lives. We need to cherish the past and look forward to the future.” I forced myself to think of happy memories and made a fool of myself for the rest of the flight as I periodically laughed out loud over our funniest escapades. I decided not to share my worries with Katie, and over the next few days I started feeling better about it—although I still got teary eyed from time to time.

Then one morning, I had an e-mail from Katie waiting in my inbox. Not knowing what news to expect, I clicked on it anxiously and read the three short but quite familiar sentences: “One-week beginners’ windsurfing trip to the Dominican Republic. In two weeks. Are you game or lame?”

Damn. Did I just waste several days worrying about how our friendship might transform? How stupid of me to think that my lucky charm would, or could, ever change. We will be grandmothers and she will still bully me into climbing Mount Whitney, not stopping until she has chased me all the way up the mountain.

Monika Szamko

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