My best friend moved away. I feel a little bit like a kid when I say that but the truth is, it's just as hard when your grown up best friend moves away as it was when your childhood best friend did. Maybe more so, because as a grown woman, I've found it's not quite as simple as your neighbor being your new best buddy. It takes time, effort and frankly, a little bit of luck to find a grown up best friend.
Shauna is my Twinnie. I don't think we started out knowing we'd be best friends; in fact, we kind of started out because I knew her husband, and he thought she and I would be excellent running partners. We had met before, occasionally running together on Saturday mornings with the group that are still my best good running friends, but that was the extent of our hanging out - the occasional Saturday just for the couple of hours we were running with the group.
Once Andy connected us, we began running together more frequently, adding weekday mornings to our routine. As it turned out, we were perfect running partners. We're basically the same height with the same length legs and the same stride. Our runs were comfortable and frequently in step; our pace and distances were so similar it was like we were working off of the same training plan. Either that or we were just so compatible from the beginning, we thought alike without even realizing it.
The perfect running partner, though, is more than pace and distance, more than matching strides and agreement on routes. Shauna and I also have daughters the same age and we generally see life through the same lens, so over the mornings and the miles, our conversations turned to things that mattered more than how far and fast we'd go that morning. As we spent an increasing number of mornings together out on the trails, we grew into that rare gem: female adult best friends.
Shauna is one of the most intelligent, accomplished, thoughtful people I know; conversations with her always leave me feeling smarter. Like I've told her before, her brilliance and accomplishments are pretty much intimidating and have the potential of making me feel a little bit less, a little bit smaller. Instead, she lifts me up, makes me think, and has an incredible ability to affirm me and my ideas in a comfortable, authentic way. I have come to rely on her as a sounding board, an ally, a sympathetic ear, a partner in righteous indignation, and everything else a best friend should be.
I can't be too upset that she's gone; she and her husband, both PhD's and professors at the University of Arkansas, earned fellowships at the University of Cambridge and moved to the UK a month ago to spend a year researching and working with new colleagues. It's incredibly prestigious and exciting, and I'm thrilled for her. I'm also incredibly happy that it's only a year fellowship - she'll be back next summer and there's no doubt we'll pick right back up where we left off.
With today's technology, we stay connected almost daily. We text, we email, we have even already Skyped once since she left. I plan on going to visit her next spring and can't wait for that trip. But all of the digital connection in the world can't replace having her here, spending time face to face, being reassured by the physical presence of friendship.
My best friend moved away, and I miss her terribly. I think, though, that I'm lucky to have a best friend to miss.