Best friend

June 16, 2014

Best friend.

 

Take a moment and breathe it in: Best. Friend.

 

For just 10 letters -- two syllables! -- it’s a surprisingly heavy phrase. Best friend.

 

Many of you get to hang out with your best friend every weekend. Some are even fortunate to wake up with your best friend every morning.

 

Me? My best friend lives in Nashville, Tennessee. More accurately, just south of Nashville, in a small town called Franklin.

 

For the past few years, I’ve lived in Binghamton, New York … approximately 900 miles, or 15 hours of driving, from Franklin.

 

I’ve never been to Tennessee (save from a “last chance” highway Moonshine stop in eastern Gatlinburg on my way back from New Orleans last August).

 

Until today.

 

I woke up this morning at a stodgy Ramada Inn in Louisville, Kentucky, 50 paces from the outdoor pool, 100 yards from the Mexican “restaurant” where, last night, I unenthusiastically AmEx’d a subpar-at-best frozen margarita, and 200-or-so miles from suburban Franklin, Tennessee.

 

It was Day 18 of my 90-day journey around the United States but, as the unofficial official theme song from this website croons, it was the Best Day of my Life.

 

The morning started like any other day this summer: wholly uninspired workout on a broken resistance machine in an odiferous hotel room; much-too-carb-y “Continental” breakfast (seriously, Ramada -- no breakfast sausage?); 200+ miles behind the wheel of constant flipping between SiriusXM Hits 1, KISS-FM and 90’s on 9.

 

But by 1 p.m. Nashville time, I was graced in Frankin, Tennessee, by the most welcoming smile in the U.S. -- north or south of the famed Mason-Dixon Line.

 

To say that I'd been looking forward to seeing my best friend would be a colossal understatement. The last year and a half of my life has been generously peppered by phone calls, texts, Facebook messages and emails to my best friend about how disgustingly nervous I was to embark on a solo journey around the country.

 

But what is a best friend for? Courage. Passion. Strength. Inspiration. Guidance.

 

Everyone needs a best friend, but very few are lucky enough to call MY best friend their best friend.

 

Because my best friend features all those aforementioned qualities and so much more. My best friend knows what it means to be there in need. My best friend understands how to transmit bravery over 4G. My best friend realizes that, even if we don’t talk or text for a few days, or our separate journeys leave us thousands of miles apart, we’re always there for each other. And when times are tough, my best friend knows that I’m always here for her, and vice versa.

 

And so in sketching out the #TeamStrub itinerary, my best friend (in Tennessee) didn’t even require the “can-I-come-visit” phone call. The journey touches down in 70 cities, but its heart and soul resides in Nashville. I joked on Twitter earlier that this trip was just an elaborate rouse to visit my best friend, but that tongue-in-cheek sentiment wasn’t as in-cheek as I might’ve let on.

 

I’m visiting 48 different states to see the country, but make no mistake about it, Tennessee: I’m here to visit your brightest, wittiest, friendliest and most amazing resident … my best friend.

 

Today was everything I ever imagined, and then some. A shockingly fantastic Mexican lunch. An awe-inspiring walking tour of downtown Nashville (proper). Apple pie moonshine at Tootsie’s. White wine at a rooftop bar overlooking Broadway. One too many sunshine-soaked cell-phone selfies. A perfectly overindulgent dinner at the sushi restaurant my best friend shares a stake in, served personally by the owner. Taking the indescribably enthusiastic dog for a late-night walk.

 

Experiences technically doable in Anytown, U.S.A., but made possible by the presence of my best friend, whose smile honestly makes me feel this way every time I see her.

 

And so when people ask me why I’m on a circuitous journey around the country, look no further than June 15 (#Day18) … the day I got to visit my best friend on her turf.

 

So, Lisa DiVirgilio, thank you. I couldn’t do this without you. And I hope these few written words help you realize the incomprehensibly positive impact you have on the lives on everyone you come across every day -- especially your best friend.

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