I walked into the restaurant and slipped into the booth by the window. I sat next to one childhood friend and across the table from another.
The three of us have been meeting for lunch for years. We typically meet once a month, and we were reconvening after a lull. Sometimes schedules and life get in the way, but when summer ended we settled on Thursdays. Our monthly lunch dates were back on the calendar.
On this particular Thursday, I didn't like the way the sun was coming in through the window. I got up and moved to the other side of the booth.
"What are you doing?" they asked.
"I can't see your faces." I said, realizing that moving didn't make it better. I switched back to my original seat. My friends laughed at me. They know my quirks. In fact, being with them brings out my quirky. Their presence may actually enhance it.
Then I realized that my seatmate looked cool as a silhouette. I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture.
Words come naturally to my friend in the photo. She's smart. She holds a Ph.D. Once, she lived in Italy and taught children language arts. Now, she teaches poetry and composition at the local college.
But her real and rare gift is her ability to tell a story out loud. She holds her listeners captive, and during our lunch dates she makes us laugh, so hard that my nose curls and tears roll. All the while, she doesn't laugh. That's what makes it so funny.
This time was no different. She made me do the ugly laugh.
And as I snorted and cried and tried to pull myself together, sitting with women who never expect me to pull myself together, I was reminded that the best stories are the ones told across the table. The stories you can't repeat. Stories shared with an intimate audience of friends.