The two-hundred-fifty-day sleepover. That was what my roommate and I decided we’d call our memoir of the first year of college. We were giddy with the way our January term—a snowy four weeks of philosophy class and hot chocolate—had become a revolving slumber party of good friends in our room.
College seemed to stretch out before us, an endless stream of inside jokes and birthday surprises and silly hi-lighter wars and snowy cuddle-fests and long conversations late into the night.
The RA had even come once to talk to us about a complaint of being too noisy late at night. We were delighted. We—who had never quite hit our stride in high school—now being singled out as too friendly, too popular, too happy! We had finally found a group of people who wanted to sit around laughing to tears and examining the meaning of life, heaven and earth, and how to love the poor.
What I didn’t consider then was that this kind of intimacy will always lead to pain. When we come to know and trust each other, we are bound to hurt each other, and to hurt for each other.
It was just around the corner.
There were times, a couple years later, where friends at home or on study abroad would hear about what we’d been through together—convoluted romances, co-dependency, deep-cutting blows, more gulping tears than I ever thought possible—and would wonder why we were all still friends.
I confess there were times I wondered too.
I lost sleep; I withdrew; I did some of the most insensitive and selfish things I’ve ever done; I learned how cruel words could be. But I never really considered walking away from those people. They never walked away from me.
Because that’s not what friends do. Friends stay.
I have written about the lonely first year of my marriage. The hopeful second year. And it strikes me that though I don’t know at all what is coming around the corner, that is okay.
I know what it is to stay; I know what it is to have someone stay for me.
Marriage is just that, with a little more kissing and maybe some extra diapers.
The two-hundred-fifty-day sleepover wasn’t the first time, and won’t be the last, that friendship hurts.
My wounds taught me how to hold back and isolate, but then slowly they taught me how to love again. How to forgive and be forgiven, how to have grace for myself. How sharing too much is a better mistake than not sharing at all. How you are forever connected once you’ve wrecked a ship together.
And if we hadn’t all somehow stuck it out (which was a grace) I would not get the privilege of flying across the country a couple times a year to attend a wedding or a party or just to sit in someone’s basement at 2 am Central time, bleary-eyed with sleep but not caring, because I only want to sit there, to keep listening, keep sharing, keep staying.