When You’re Here, You’re Family

Post-grad life was starting to seem the same only five months after graduation. Get up and go to work. Come home, eat a late lunch. Go to second job. Come home. Write. Go to bed. And then do it all over again the next day.

When Alex texted me about possibly meeting up for dinner, I was beyond stoked.

Alex and I quickly became friends a year ago after our mutual friend, Merrill, introduced us. We ended up graduating together, and, fortunately, live only about an hour apart. I saw her once over the summer, but it was only briefly, as she helped me navigate the subway system and find my way to JFK airport.

Alex works in the city and was coming to my neck of the woods for a business conference. We made plans to eat at Olive Garden, one of Alex’s favorites, and a restaurant I had never been to.

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Last week, I picked Alex up from the Culinary Institute of America (where her work gig was) and drove to Olive Garden.

Although I don’t keep in contact with Alex on a daily or even weekly basis (aside from SnapChats), we immediately picked up where we last left off. She told me about her job and how the conference went, as well as how much she loved her tour of the Hudson Valley. I told her about Alumni Weekend (she couldn’t make it) and how different, yet the same, campus is.

There we were, in the middle of Olive Garden at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Alex was wearing a dress and a blazer, and I had on a dressy shirt and dark jeans. Alex’s hair was straight and mine was curled, but we both wore make-up. We looked good, but even more than that, professional.

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Our waiter served us salad and breadsticks, which were softer and more garlic-y than I had expected. And still we talked, exclaiming over new revelations and sharing stories from our work experiences.

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Soon, Alex’s penne & shrimp and my chicken fettuccine alfredo came, followed even sooner by the check. The clock reminded us that Alex’s train would be leaving soon, even though neither of us could stop talking.

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If this is what post-grad life entails, then I’ll take it. I was so happy to see my college friend and to have dinner with her after a long day of work, and all a stone’s throw from where I grew up.

I got Alex back to her train with time to spare. The train station was eerily deserted, yet those high-backed benches reminded us of one thing: the connector in Dion. Someone finally agrees with me that those benches belong in a train station.

Alex and I goofed off, taking random pictures with random signs as I pretended to know which track her train would depart from. It felt like I was repaying the favor for all of her help getting me to my flight on time in May.

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As we hugged goodbye on the cement platform, we promised to make plans to see each other again, reminding ourselves that no matter where we physically are in life, we’ll always be friends.

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