The One at the Kearney Arch

If you're tracking my blog titles, you've surely recognized the connection to the best TV show of all time. How could you not love FRIENDS? Six different people living and loving together, celebrating and mourning together, essentially turning friends into FAMILY.

I've spent a majority of my life watching this show on repeat, quoting my favorite scenes and laughing out loud at the moving picture box on my wall. Their friendships are my friendships and I always hoped to find relationships like these in my real life, too. Though to be honest, I hope none of my real friends marry and divorce as often as Ross.

As we grow a little older I think it's natural we grow apart. We saw our friends in high school every day, we saw our friends in college every holiday break, we see our friends in adulthood only if we try. And the keyword here is try. Once people start chasing different dreams in different cities with different life plans, it's not as easy to bump into each other at HyVee or grab a quick drink after work.

For some friends, "to try" means to answer the phone when it rings (which I'm chronically bad at) or drop a letter in the mail once a week. For others it means clearing the calendar months in advance for one short weekend together. I think we all remember those family friends who did this and are still doing this in order to attend your wedding or surprise you with a hug at your grandpa's funeral. 

In the summer of last year, high school friends Brooke and Andy planned a weekend getaway with us to visit our friends Mallory and John. We wouldn't be going until September, but we knew with our schedules we'd have to make these plans far in advance. For months we anticipated the weekend and when it finally came, it was over before we could believe it. Our jokes continued throughout the 6-hour drive home and when we went our separate ways we couldn't help but feel like our homes were too empty and too quiet.

We knew we'd be together again soon thanks to weddings and holidays, but a few days following Christmas we got the itch to be together again. It sounds so dumb and needy, but dang I think I speak for all of us when I say we really feel at our best when we're all together.

So continued the group text: Can't do this weekend because I have a test. Can't do that weekend because I have to work. Can't do that weekend either because blah blah blah. There's always a reason for no, but we quickly learned if we wanted to say yes, we'd have to silence the noise and make it work. So we did!

We met halfway to stay with Brooke and Andy and finally see their first married home. We toured the Kearney Archway, which let me tell you looks lame from the outside but dang it was cool. We visited some of Brooke and Andy's favorite spots around town. But we really just invested in each other. We talked faith, marriage, family, high school stories, life goals, the list goes on and on. And for two days it didn't stop until the late night hand stands and dance parties started.

I left this weekend feeling energized and thankful. Not just for these five friends, but for all of the friends I'm lucky to have in my life. Ones in Lincoln that I see every week, ones in Omaha that I see once in awhile, and ones across the country that take effort, but are continually invested and worth every second.

I've been praying a lot lately for people who don't feel this sort of connection. I've found my real-life FRIENDS. Now I just hope you're able to find and recognize those relationships, too. Maybe even thank them or let them know just how much they mean to you.

Brandi Arnold