I never believed in the concept of love at first sight, until it happened to me. For me, it didn’t happen in a romantic context, but I immediately connected with my best friend, Toni.
We met almost 10 years ago, when we were both studying abroad in Japan. We had come from two different undergraduate universities on the same study abroad program. We connected instantly.
I kept a travel journal every day while I was in Japan. It not only helps me remember Japan, but I have documentation of the beginning of my friendship with Toni. The first six weeks of our friendship, I wrote about her almost every day. For example, the very first time she appears in my journal: “Right away, me and Toni hit it off… and planned to sit near each other on the bus tomorrow! :)” From our conversation on the bus the next day, “We had really bonded the night before, and we did it again today too… I enjoyed talking to her SO much. I just feel like we really clicked and just got along great!”
We continued to get close throughout our time in Japan. One of our favorite parts of the beginning of our friendship was the transition from Kamogawa to Waseda- the first to second part of the program. The first part was two weeks in the middle of nowhere (Kamogawa), 2 hours away from Tokyo in the mountains. The second part was four weeks in Tokyo. For the first part, we were placed with random roommates. For the part in Tokyo, we had filled out a roommate questionnaire ahead of time and they had matched us up at that time based on compatibility.
Toni and I sat with each other on the bus again when we rode from the seminar house to Tokyo and found out our roommate assignments. We promised we would continue spending a lot of time together, no matter who our roommates were. To our complete delight, we had been assigned each other as roommates! Even our pre-program questionnaire thought that we would be compatible. We were so happy with this and felt like our friendship was “meant to be!”
Though we’ve always been long distance friends, that has never stopped us. We visit each other a few times a year and even took a graduation trip together when I got my PhD and she got her MD. We’ve experienced a lot of similar life milestones at the same time, like getting our graduate degrees, switching programs (her for residency, me for my job), and its been amazing to have her support. I can talk to her about anything. When something goes wrong, she’s often the first person I call to ask for advice and support.
Recently, she moved to Ann Arbor, which is the closest (2.5 hours) we’ve ever lived to each other. It’s been awesome to see each other more often! The life of a medical Resident (aka Toni’s life) is incredibly stressful and her schedule packed, but we make time.
Like this weekend. She had only Saturday off and started a night shift on Sunday. Nevertheless, we decided to meet up halfway between where we both live for a staycation. We looked up the city (Toledo) and found that the number 1 most romantic hotel in the U.S, a spa hotel, was located there. So of course, we had to go. Since we made the plans only about 3-4 weeks out, there was limited availability. The only room available was the most expensive one. Oh, darn.
I was a little hesitant, but Toni talked me into it and I was SO glad she did. We decided to make it our 10 year friendship anniversary celebration! We brought wine, champagne, flowers, fondue, and snacks. The room itself had a gigantic bed with a fireplace, an unnecessarily large shower, a jacuzzi, a heated pool, and a sauna.
It was one of the best trips I’ve taken! We spent the first few hours pruning up in the pool as we dipped our rotisserie chicken in cheese fondue and drank wine. We pulled all the flowers off their stems and put them in the pool for extra “romance.” We lit dozens of tea light candles and put bubble bath in the jacuzzi. We ate fruit dipped in chocolate fondue on the bed. We played Code Names and painted our toenails. We talked about our lives until past 3 am. I can’t remember the last time I stayed up even close to that late, but I was barely tired at all because I was having such an amazing time.
It was hard to leave in the morning. Even though I’m on winter break, it was hard to come back to reality. My life without my best friend and a heated pool in my room. But I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after that wonderful break. I also feel amazingly grateful to have a person like Toni in my life.