Step 1. Arrive in town several hours later than expected due to an unplanned post-work nap. Miss a turn on your drive home and get in a fight with your GPS narrator when she suggests you correct your mistake by turning on “Highway Mm,” which doesn’t exist, and which she pronounces “Highway Millimeters.”
Step 2. Ignore the Voicemail your friend leaves the next afternoon asking you to come hiking with her family, because you are still half-asleep and having a dream that you are sick to your stomach from smoking K2.
Step 3. Invite your friend over to have dinner with your family. Allow her to end dinner by sharing an alarmingly graphic story about a man who got tied up to a chair, had his arm sawed off, freed himself by sliding his bloody stump out of the rope, used his belt to craft a tourniquet, and then stepped on his own hand on his way to the phone.
Step 4. As you are all recovering from this story, have your dad drop the “You Are Special Today” plate your mother served your friend dinner on- the plate that has seen you through all the most special days of your childhood. This will be an apt metaphor for growing up.
Step 5. Sit through a slideshow of your friend’s photos. Realize how comparatively little you have accomplished in the past 2.5 years as you see the school she built and the children whose educations she personally funded. Decide that one day you will start being less self-focused, but let’s be realistic, probably no time soon.
Step 6. Stay up late together drinking raspberry wine and talking about nipples. Get hyper with excitement around 2am when the two of you decide that you must fly to Chile together in order to resolve a study-abroad love story from years ago. Decide that the best thing to do is book tickets now so that you’ll “just have to make it work.”
Step 7. Have your friend and her sister run outside the next morning as you are backing out to point out that you have left track marks in their neighbor’s lawn. You never did master the art of backing out of curved driveways.
Step 8. On the drive home, note that this is the first time in a long time that you have said goodbye to your friend without feeling like your heart has just been yanked out of your chest, remaining connected by only a stringy, bloody thread. Realize its because this time, for the first time since you were 18, you know it won’t be a matter of months or years until you see each other again. Smile.