14 Years Earlier
I met Julie in 2002 in Killeen, Texas. We immediately clicked in a world filled with Army wives with multiple children at age 20. I was finishing law school at Baylor, and she was finishing her masters degree in speech therapy. We realized we had a lot more in common other than being a sucker for men in uniform.
When our guys were deployed (both domestically and abroad) we filled the time by shopping, hanging out, and drinking way too much. It was amazing. We commiserated about being lonely and ate a lot of Sonic. We made mixed cd's (the best is the "F*ck the Deployment Mix) and watched Friends. Jules is one of the pivotal people I met in my 20s, and I'm grateful for her every day.
|2003: The party isn't started until someone's wearing a tiara for no reason.|
I truly believe there are only a handful of friendships in one's life that withstand the test of time. Our friendship is one of those. Julie now has two children (older than mine at 8 and 11), and our visits involve slightly (but really only slightly) less drinking these days and more kid-friendly endeavors. We have careers, and we have mortgages. We're actual grown ups (in theory), but our friendship is stronger than ever. Sometimes we talk or text regularly, and sometimes it's several months between chats. It doesn't matter how much time goes by; our friendship is always exactly the same. There are very few people in the world who know me as well as Jules. She knows my deepest, darkest secrets including all the youthful indiscretions that make me glad Facebook didn't exist when we first met. She's never judged my choices, and I trust her implicitly.
Last weekend I went to St. Louis to visit her. It was the first time she was meeting my son, and I knew traveling with a toddler in tow would mean a more relaxed visit. By "relaxed" I mean less drunken. Chasing a toddler doesn't make anything relaxing.
My son and I left our house at 5:30 am on Friday to go to the airport. By the time we arrived in St. Louis I was exhausted but never too tired for brunch and bloody marys. I haven't been to St. Louis since high school, but I immediately loved the vibe of the quaint neighborhood we visited right by the Anheuser-Busch brewery. We had delicious bloodys and eggs benedict before heading to her house so the baby could nap. Friday evening was sedate with dinner, kid time and wine. Lots of wine.
Traveling with a toddler is an adventure as he was up at 6 on Saturday morning. We headed to Soulard Farmers Market first thing to check out the market. It was amazing. It's the oldest market west of the Mississippi, and we know I'm a sucker for old city markets. Also a plus for St. Louis - there is early morning booze at their farmers market shops. We sipped Baileys and coffee (it was vacation!) as we walked around the market and enjoyed delicious mini-doughnuts.
Following the market we headed to the St. Louis Zoo. It's a free zoo with fantastic exhibits. We saw hippos up close and personal at the hippopotamus exhibit. I'm not sure I'd ever seen a hippo in real life. It was a fascinating creature. The kids loved the zoo, and I did too.
|My little dude loved the goats|
|We've aged well.|