We only get to see each other a few times a year. We are used to it now, having built a long distance friendship ever since she left for college. I was 17, she was 18. We talk on the phone every chance we get. We chat online all day at work. We’ve been friends for so long. I’m not sure when we went from being “friends” to “best friends,” but we probably transitioned sometime between when she brought her new puppy to Sunday school (we saw that puppy live a full, sweet life) and when I had a sleepover at her house the night before my sister was born (my sister is now almost 17). Our conversations feel as comfortable as a favorite pair of pajamas. “Did you notice pumpkin spice lattes are back?” “Did you hear that new song, ‘Royals’?” “How’s your brother’s wife?” “What do you think of the crisis in Syria?” “Would you ever move out of California?” We can cover any topic from boyfriends to the federal budget and back again without skipping a beat.
Getting to see each other is the icing on the cake. We usually comment on how comfortable it is not to need to catch up. We fall easily back into conversation, talking about my friends having babies and her recent work trips. We laugh about the clothes we try on.
We buy sandwiches at Sprouts and take them to the beach. I eat roast beef, she eats chicken salad. We watch the waves roll in and out. The sound is loud, even for the smallest swells, and we talk about the power of the ocean. We can’t get over the fact that we live in a place where such beauty is so close. She tells a story about her lunches this week. She works at Pepperdine University, and if she has time she tries to take her lunch down to the shore. However, she realized this week that even sitting on the beach, she sometimes takes for granted where she is, what she’s experiencing. It’s an incredible place.
One wave splashes up near our feet, so we glance around to see if it was a rogue wave or if the tide is actually rising and if the other sun-seekers decide to move for higher ground. That’s when we see them: our future selves.
They are pulling their red blanket back several feet. One is brunette, the other is blonde, and both shades conceal what would be graying heads. Their wrinkles tell of more laughing than frowning. They settle themselves down, bottoms on the blanket, bare feet in the sand. They each open their lunchboxes. One untucks the Bible from under her arm.
We glance briefly at them. Then we look again, longer this time. It’s not every day you get to see your future.
They play a fun and unskilled game of Frisbee. One toss lands on our heads, which we’ve covered with T-shirts to prevent a sunburn (of course we forgot sunblock). The blonde laughs sheepishly as she retrieves the frisbee. “Sorry,” she says, “I didn’t realize how close we were.” We laugh good-naturedly in response. We understand completely.
We have to leave before they do. Our eyes meet and we smile across the years. I wonder if they see themselves in us the way we see ourselves in them. It was the most beautiful telescope I’ve peered through in a while.