The "Have Done" List.
I met Marlene in 5th grade. We had both transferred to Sacred Heart School the same year and in my memory, we became best friends instantly. Like me, she was Portuguese and her family also instantly became my second family. I’d stay over her house on school nights and even traveled to Portugal with her and her family in the summer for weeks at a time. The first time I got drunk, I was with her. (Still can’t quite drink Screwdrivers, to this day). She even had two twin beds in her room – one for her, and one for me. We were essentially sisters, and opposite in quite a few ways – in our grade school yearbook, she was voted “Class Flirt” while I was voted “Most Shy.” Because I was so shy, she was the one who called the boy I had a crush on to ask him out for me and he eventually became my first “boyfriend.” We were both on the basketball and volleyball teams though I didn’t have an athletic bone in my body, and we also spent a lot of time at youth group together which became a huge part of our lives.
We graduated from 8th grade and both decided to go to St. Dominic Academy, an all-girls high school in my hometown of Jersey City. We joined the soccer team together and also remained super active in our youth group – attending retreats, giving talks, and even had the opportunity to co-lead a weekend retreat together. When it came for college, we both applied to schools – some different, some the same – but ended up both choosing the University of Scranton in PA. Of course, it made sense to be roommates and we ended up living together all four years minus the one semester we both studied abroad junior year. Honestly, I can’t remember ever getting in a fight with her. I remember we even made a word up that we could say to each other if we ever needed space or time alone when we got to college, knowing that friendships have been ruined when two people decide to live with each other. But, we never had to use that word. Ever.
Given all this history, I was ridiculously excited when Marlene told me she booked a flight to Portland. She would be my first guest in my new apartment and the first visitor since the breakup. When I asked her what she wanted to do or see, she just said, “I don’t care. I just want to see and talk to you.” She’s flying 3,000 miles away from her two kids and husband… to talk, in person. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
It’s been 24 hours since she arrived – about ½ the total time she will be here – and it’s been amazing to sit and be with someone who just knows you. She not only knows me today, but she knows where I’ve come from – not from stories I’ve told her but from being there right beside me, experiencing those moments with me. We have known each other and seen each other grow and change over the past 26 years through moments of awkwardness and sadness and confusion and “first’s” and prom dates and crushes and love and disappointment and success. I don’t know if there’s anyone else in the world that knows me like she knows me.
In one of our many conversations just in these first 24 hours together, she shared something that her supervisor said recently at a faculty meeting. She said that we focus so much on our “to do” lists and instead, we should take the time to focus, and celebrate, our “have done” list – all of the things, big and small, that we have accomplished. As someone who is just recovering from writing countless “to do” lists and not doing them, this hit me. And it hit me even harder because I was sitting across from someone who knows my “have done” list and if I tried to say I haven’t done this or that, she could remind me of all the things I have experienced and accomplished in life, thus far. It’s not to say I don’t want to experience or accomplish more, but especially for me, it was a good practice to step back and recognize the many great and even hard moments that make up my 36-year story, so far. Those moments are the ones that have gotten me here, to this place. Those ts are the ones that will fuel the next great moments of tomorrow, and the next day…
I have come to realize how lucky I am to have friendships, like the one I have with Marlene, in my life. I mean, just one friend like Marlene in a lifetime would be incredible and I’m fortunate enough to have several friendships at this level of trust, support, love, and acceptance even – and especially – through the many changes in the phases of our lives.
In the words of Winnie the Pooh, “It seems they had always been, and would always be, friends. Time could change much, but not that.”
On to the next 24 hours…
But first, quotes:
“Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.”
~ Rose Kennedy
“Make time to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small.”
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”
About the photo: This was taken today, with our backs towards Multnomah Falls looking towards Washington. It was a day that started cloudy and became sunny, with intermittent rain in between those moments. I love days like that.