I'm an only child. Spoiled, entitled, bratty my mom knew all of those qualities were inevitable, but she didn't want me to be a hermit (mission failure). To combat this, she handpicked friends for me since infancy. Thanks to her due diligence, some of my closest friends today, I've known since I was a year old. Mariah, Tali, Garland, Harrison and me. They feel more like siblings than friends. They aggravate me more than anyone else can, but also, they've got my back. There isn't a world for me in which they don't exist, and that's pretty special.
What's even more unique about these friendships is that all of them were inconsistent. Through our childhood's, we were inseparable. But, as time often does, we drifted. Mariah moved away, I went to a high school in a different city, and by college, it had been years since I'd seen most of my childhood friends. I still had a special place for them in my heart, but I figured, that's just a part of getting older. You find new people.
When I was in my second year of college in New York City, my sibling-like friends were all but a distant memory. I'd formed new circles. It wasn't until one day when Garland called me out of the blue, saying that he'd moved to Brooklyn and we had to hang out. I was down.
Out of everyone in our little group, I remained in the most touch with Gar. Once every two years or so we'd hang out throughout our teenage years. We even managed to get taken to a police station at 3 am when we were 16 on one of these scattered hang seshs (no charges, just a whole lot of drama). I asked for his address, and he told me St. Johns Pl. I was confused. There's a lot of streets in New York. You start on populated stretch, head down a random crevice, and before you know it, you've crossed 65 streets, lanes, and avenues. So, I figured, there must be quite a few St. Johns Pl.'s around the city. But nope. Garland had unwittingly moved onto the same block that I'd been living on for two years.
We met up and chatted on his roof for hours, blown away by coincidence. When I got home that night, I thought that would probably be the last for another few years. We were never the friends that were together everyday, we just would come back together, randomly, for a short burst of time. He wasn't letting me off that easy though. Living on the same block was too much not to throw us back to full fledge friendship. That was almost four years ago,and since then, Garland and I have gone on adventures galore. Drinking endless mimosas at happy hour, and then proceeding to watch him jump in the lake at Central Park, fully clothed and surrounded by tourists. Exploring abandoned insane asylums and schools. Dancing from morning until, well, morning, for days at music festivals. We've seen Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Blink-182, Big Gigantic, Griz, Bassnectar, and about a hundred other artists live. We went to Canada on a whim. We've had a blast, and I can't even imagine our future excursions.
Tali was a different story entirely. When we were kids, she was the closest person to me. We basically lived at each other's houses. We were family. Once we hit our teenage years, though, that friendship dissipated. We were never enemies. There wasn't some huge argument or falling out. I just moved schools and we stopped talking. We went on with our lives and didn't see each other for about 10 years. That was, until, this summer.
By the summer of 2019, our gang had all come back together. Mariah, Harry, Garland and I had been going to music festivals together for years. Tali was the only piece of the puzzle who hadn't rejoined. I started thinking about how epic it would be if we were all back together this year for our favorite festival, Camp Bisco. It couldn't hurt to ask her if she wanted to come. The worst she'd say was no, and honestly, that's the answer I thought I was going to get. Much to my surprise, she bought her ticket within the week.
After years without seeing her, we came back together and it was one of the most beautifully absurd experiences I've ever had. It all came back immediately. The laughter and the energy. We clicked, just as we had when we were five. It was strange. After spending three days on Montage Mountain with her and the rest of the squad, I knew she was a keeper.
Where's the relevancy here? Well, the relevancy is that in two itty-bitty months, Garland, Tali and I will be on a plane to Colombia. When I started trying to convince Garland to accompany me, it was more of a test in endurance than anything. He's always down for an adventure, but he was an 'adventure in spurts' kind of guy. He's just too damn busy and successful for my nonsense. Getting him to book a ticket to South America and travel around aimlessly with me for however long he wanted to stay was a feat I originally considered impossible.
I don't know what did it. The overload of beautiful sights we could see. The drawn out speeches about how we're in the prime our life and, if there was any, now was the time for making memories. Spending him ridiculously low flight costs. Whatever it was, he said yes, eventually, and booked himself a ticket.
Somewhere along the convincing, Tali shot me a text asking advice on traveling to South East Asia. She said that she wanted to go somewhere coming up in January, and I suggested, come to Colombia. Excitedly, she agreed. A few months went by and I assumed, it was another person who said they were down to go, but it didn't work out. Again, much to my surprise, after we bought ours, she sent us a photo of her ticket confirmation. We were really doing it.
When I was solo traveling, I was always a little jealous of people who were sharing part of their experience with friends from home. Don't get me wrong, traveling by myself was the best decision I've ever made, and the way I think I'll always like to do it. But, I wanted to see what it was like to have someone in your timezone get to see those things with you. I knew it was a long shot because people have lives, and not everyone's involves backpacking for months.
If you asked me a year ago who I'd be traveling with now, the last people on that list of guesses would probably be Garland and Tali. I never could've predicted it. Out of everyone who could've bought those tickets, though, I'm so glad it's them.
Update to follow. January 13th can't come fast enough.