impromptu dinner party

With new jobs, crazy schedules, boyfriends, friends, car trouble, overtime hours, unexpecteds and, oh yeah, the fact that she lives in Vancouver, it's been a long time since Ashley and I have been able to slow down enough to catch up with each other. And so this weekend when her boy Brandon was out of town, we jumped at the chance to play.

Of course, this past weekend at work left me with my head spinning around like those damn plates Radiohead has been singing about all these years and even when we got our act together and decided "Yes! Saturday night! SAT-UR-DAY NIGHT!" by the end of the work day I was about to fall down and wail helplessly trying to figure out what just happened to the last nine hours of my life ("busy, busy, busy") (Vonnegut point for Moshboy, who probably doesn't even read this... That's fine).

So Saturday didn't work. I didn't have the stamina to make the hour drive from Dundee to Vancouver at that point. Sunday though... Sunday was the day. Armed with a bottle of 2005 Leland Vineyard Pinot Noir (ooooh) I crossed the border into Washington and landed at the Briley/Gamble household. At this point, Brandon was home and dinner was being made (not a bad event to walk into). The menu? Lime & jalapeno marinated tuna steaks on the grill, fresh salad with veggies (most of which were from their garden), oven-roasted potatoes and strawberry shortcake (which gave Ash, who rarely drinks, some trouble there when trying to perform kitchen conversions for the butter and egg components after a glass of wine - entertaining for me though)

Dinner aside (which was amazing) the evening was much needed. I've known Ashley for almost three years; one of my first friends at Living Room and Portland in general. Our initial bond formed when we took that leap of faith and became Facebook friends (isn't that, after all, the true validation of any relationship?) (wait, it's not? I need to go reevaluate my belief system...) and discovered we both had had religious experiences reading Shantaram. As far as I'm concerned, this novel is the perfect cornerstone for a friendship. Fast forward to the past year and that's when I really realized that she had become one of my best friends. A true and solid member of the Portland family I have found myself fortunate enough to be a part of.

The three of us ate our tuna, doused our potatoes with Creole seasoning (Brandon's addition to the meal... Hey, these kids are from Louisiana, they know what they're talking about) and finished off the Leland. Leaving us to girl time, B headed off to bed but not before prepping the hot tub for the ladies (here meaning, taking the cover off while we popped open another bottle of wine). And for the next two hours Ash and I alternated bubbling in the hot tub and perching on the edge to bring our body temperatures back down to a normal level. We talked about the classics - love, life, faith and philosophy -  you know, solving the world's problems. We've both found ourselves in similar situations in the past year and both come out better, stronger women for it. Not taking for granted these lessons, we decided that the pits of despair we have teetered on the edges of off-and-on for the past few months were all entirely worth it. and above all else, we are thankful for them - something we were only able to realize here in hindsight.

My point is this: that old saying, "Wherever you are, it's your friends who make your world" is entirely true. My best friends, the ones who make my heart beat and soul strong, are peppered all over the place (here, there and everywhere). My utopia would have them all within arm's reach (alas...) but it's sure nice to know that wherever I go, they'll be there.


  1. Well if your "utopia" didn't snow buckets and insist on being laced with the homeless (as the rest of the world calls them; in Portland, people who CHOOSE not to bathe for weeks at a time), maybe your best friends would be closer.