18 years ago I drove to Orlando, FL not knowing a soul and enrolled as a student at UCF. I didn't know where I was going to live, but I knew I needed someone to share the rent. I headed over to the Housing Department to flip through their books. I came across a page that stood out with the words "NO SNOBS PLEASE" in giant bold letters. It made me laugh. I read through the application and realized that this girl and I had nothing in common. And I mean NOTHING! But...she had a room for rent in my price range so I decided to meet her for lunch. We chatted a bit and decided to give it a try.
3 years later, Kari stood next to me in tears as I said "I do" to my husband. Our friendship became one of those magical ones that truly stands the test of time. It's real and it's authentic and there is NO harm done by distance or lack of communication. Kari and I have been mostly absent from eachother's lives over the last 2 years. She lost her big sister to cancer and I didn't know, which makes me feel horrible.
My husband's job moved us to Georgia a year ago and Kari's husband's job took them to North Carolina this month. Kari stopped at our house on her drive up to NC to spend the night and catch up. As I was sitting on the porch talking to her, I had a full circle moment. I was drawn to her all those years ago because she was completely authentic and very different from the girls I usually hung out with. Kari didn't care what people thought, she wasn't into gossip or keeping up with the Jones' and she spoke up for her beliefs--no matter how controversial. Here I was sitting 18 years later looking at a woman who possesses all the qualities I have come to cherish when it comes to friendship. I have lost friends over the years, been hurt many times, but I have learned such valuable lessons about what I want and what I don't want in a friendship. I used to have a large, extended group of friends that I considered close and now I feel truly blessed to have 2 or 3 that I know are the real deal. Maybe these are just life lessons that come with being almost 40 but I can't help but smile when I think back on that 21 year old girl who didn't know a thing about life but somehow knew to pick Kari.