Walking to my dog’s daycare early Monday morning. phone pressed to my ear, I must’ve been grinning harder than I have in months. I was listening to a voicemail left the night before.
“Vickiiiiii!!! What’s up?????? It’s Nick!!! I’m a Reggae Night at Kittens and it’s just not the same without you. I’m out here for a couple of weeks. I really miss you and you should be here. Alright, call me back. Peace.”
I miss my friends. I really, really do. Nick was a smooth talking swedish New Yorker who was a great companion for two full summers out of my four on the island. He and I clicked immediately one night at a bonfire party and were joined at the hip after that. We were buddies, and he was the perfect sidekick. We’d hike, we’d play pool and ping pong, we’d go swimming in the fresh water ponds, and we’d meet each other for strawberry banana smoothees during work breaks.
Nick and I would take many long island drives which have really stayed with me. As we’d circle the seven mile long island, I remember the ocean air filling my car, the salty wind tearing at my eyes and whipping my hair, and the music from his mixed cds playing loudly. We would usually go searching for the most breathtaking views Block Island could offer us- views so gorgeous they would spoil me for a life time. He would show me quiet beaches, unknown trails, and perfect places to sit and watch the sky, far away from the tourists and drunks. When you can sit and share those moments without a single word, a powerful bond is formed, and that’s exactly what happened with us.
His summer job was working as a carpenter on the sleepier side of the island- the west side that only locals and island workers knew of. He helped build enormous, expensive homes that were perched on the edges of cliffs overlooking the atlantic ocean with multiple decks so long, they would wrap around to the front, and so wide, they could fit hundreds of people. Nick and I would have those places to ourselves when the other workers would pack up and call it a day. We would sit on the highest deck during the late night thunderstorms, under a massive umbrella, passing a joint and sharing our dreams. The rain would pour heavily around us, and the ocean waves would crash and swirl far below, thrashing against the rocks so hard it seemed as though they could devour the island.
As incredible as those summers were, our employers would overwork us. REALLY overwork us. Between work and play we’d have hardly any sleep but that was fine. We were young, free and the island was our play-ground. Every year we’d come back to Block Island after school, travel, or what ever else people would do with their winters, and it was like seeing family again. Memorial Day Week-end would kick things off and the island would be in full swing until just past Labor Day.
During one particularly exhausting evening, I remember actually refusing to go out with my room-ates which was never an easy task given how convincing they were. Nick had called and I’d told him I wasn’t going anywhere and that I was so hungry I didn’t even had the energy to find food. He actually showed up merely 40 minutes later with penne pasta he’d made for me. My room-ate and close friend Laura had announced that she “wanted a Nick.” oohing and aahing over the homeade sauce. I told Nick he was the best. “Vicki, you know how much I love you.”
We had that unconditional love that I have with my closest female friends. The kind of love that is comfortable and true without the “in love” part that can tear your heart open in any given moment. The friendship love without the high expectations, the pressure, or the uneasiness over any potential “relationship” pain. Despite the fact that we gave into lust at one point (or a few times), we both knew that ultimately, the friendship mattered more, and that continuing to be with each other in an even more intimate way could hurt things. Looking back five years later, I realize that we must have been extremely mature 20 yr olds to see things as they were in the larger picture, and I am so grateful for that.
At the end of that last summer that Nick worked on the island, he helped me move all of my stuff back to East Greenwich. It was a chilly September day and we sat close on the slow moving ferry, watching the island fade away along with another magical summer, as we approached the mainland. He stayed with me at my parent’s that week end and my family adored him. I remember being sad for weeks when he had to go back to NY- knowing that’d it be at least another full year before seeing him again, if he would even be going back to the island. It wasn’t heartbreak but really just the raw, empty feeling of missing someone so much that every time something happens you just want to share it, and you realize that they simply aren’t there.
The memories always somehow remain vivid when brought up again, but life shifts and change comes more rapidly than expected. You are missing that person which turns into reminiscing, the once fresh memories turn into older ones, you play voicemail tag every now and then, and then before you know it, 5 years has gone by. Has it really been five years??? Five years is long when you are twenty five. I suppose that five years begins to sound shorter and shorter the older you get. A lot happens in five years regardless of age though.
Despite my dreary Monday of having a flat tire, a surprisingly painful work out and a few other minor annoyances, the day was fabulous because of Nick’s voice mail from the night before. I returned his call, left my own message, and sort of smile to myself knowing that I may not actually talk to him live on the phone for another 5 years. I love the real friendships- the ones when despite the amount of time that goes by, when you see one another again you can pick up exactly where you left off.
I also love how voicemail tag is a way of just knowing that person is still there in your life somehow. I’ve decided that this week I’m going to leave all of my closest friends (mainly on the east coast) voice mails to let them know they’re in my thoughts and that I’m still here, despite not having talked in awhile. Surprise phone calls. Unconditional love. Real friendships that withstand the test of time. Isn’t that one of the best parts about life? Thank you for reminding me, Nick.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field- I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to even talk about. Ideas, language and even the phrase “each other” no longer makes sense.” -Rumi
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