Long-time friends Retta (l) and Tina (r).

I was sitting with Alfre Woodard and two of my closest friends, basking in the sun and each other’s company while we dined al fresco on the most gorgeous summer day imaginable. Well, kind of. The friend part is correct, but it was a rainy autumn day in Chicago. We could see the soggy cityscape from Baptiste and Bottle on the 20th floor of the Conrad Hotel. There was no literal sun that day. But the metaphorical sunshine was blinding.

Oh, and Alfre was at a different table across the restaurant.

I’ve written about them before: my a-list, though this day only comprised 60% of us—quorum enough for a boozie brunch and our brand of delinquent debauchery. There is nothing like being with these incredible people. And it’s exponentially better, the more of us there are.

It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years since these two beauties entered my life—and my heart—when fate brought us together at Second City. We have remained as constants in each other’s lives, celebrating the ups and supporting each other through the downs. Even if it’s been too long between visits, there is no “warm up period.” When we are together, we are connected as if no time had passed since the day we realized we’d been long-lost members of the same tribe.

I’d found the restaurant with a few simple google terms like “bottomless mimosas” and “downtown”, the agreed upon area for the three of us to come together; Tina and I coming from the north and Retta from the south. I was disappointed it was drizzly, but figured it wouldn’t factor much into our time together. It didn’t. Once we were all together, someone at our table was always talking. There was no time to waste!

Our five-hour brunch sped by way too fast. And like I leave any event with these two, I smiled all the way home in my Uber. As Lake Michigan shimmered to my right on the drive northward, I relived every second of our time together. The time we’re together is heartening and soul-replenishing as only it can be with friends who have known each other for so long. I wish I could envelope each of us in the protective warmth of each other’s company and take it with me, but I suppose I’m doing that right now, right?

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