Three girls sit on a screened-in porch, each curled up on their respective piece of wicker furniture. Mosquitoes ping against the screened sides and cicadas hum in the distance. Half-drunk glasses of wine rest on end tables, and a bowl of eggless cookie dough sits perched on the wicker coffee table beside a pile of letters. It’s the perfect August evening; it’s hot but not oppressive, and there is an easy familiarity about them as they sit talking. It is late, but there is no indication that they are tired. They toss back their heads and laugh between scoops of cookie dough.
They do this every year, this getting together to read the letters they’ve written each other over the past year. This is nothing new for them, and yet it feels different this year. It isn’t just the fact that they’re beginning their final year of college or that they’re drinking wine instead of water. They are typically separate entities, but something about this night has turned them into one being. They are not separated into Live, Love, and Laugh but instead become tangled together into the mess that is Friendship. The wine they drink is sticky and sweet, and the letters they read are by turns poignant, hilarious, embarrassing.
The air is electrically charged that night. Something shifted in the air the moment they stepped onto the porch. They can’t help but feel it; it is infectious. There is a feeling of momentousness to everything.
We watched each other fall in love that night—with ourselves, with men, with our friendship. But most of all, we fell in love with living.
This is what it is to be on the cusp of something—something new and exciting and terrifying all at once. They cannot see the future; they do not know what the year will bring. They cannot see the joy to come, nor can they see the heartbreak. They do not know that the winter will lead to road trips on the coldest day of the year. They cannot see themselves standing in a hotel room, surrounded by bags and contemplating the heater. If they could see that future, they could have saved themselves some embarrassment and frozen toes.
They don’t see the interviews, the nights when ice cream will be their best friend, the endless cups of tea, or the long walks back from the library in the cold. But they feel them. The future hums in their very marrow, hums even more loudly than the cicadas and the crickets. They are not quite real this night; they exist in a kind of limbo between the future and the past. They are in a lingering present where they can, just for a moment, rest and feel the electricity of life around them.
In another few hours, the sun will rise. The rosy fingers of dawn will begin to light the sky and bring a new day. The outside world will call, pull them back. But for now, they enjoy the night. They sip their wine. They live. They laugh. They love.