Oops, I almost forgot today was Carmen’s birthday. It may not be Carmen‘s birthday in the real world (or anywhere, by the time I get an internet connection again), but in my head it‘s Carmen‘s birthday, and that will have to be good enough for now. I remembered as I climbed on an old abbey-fortress, I remembered as I bought something with naked men on it, but I forgot in front of the only form of free communication I have with friends back home: a connected computer.
Carmen and I met our freshmen year at MSU in Bozeman. Her roommate had decided last minute not to attend school that year, and mine had lied about smoking on her dorm application because she thought her parents would find out. Carmen was stuck with extra fees or a mystery roommate, I was stuck with a girl who slept through three alarms in a row and left pizza in strange places. Carmen, Amy, and I got along really well. That first weekend, we went on a bike ride around Bozeman, getting lost in places that I would know forwards and backwards in the dark, drunk, and half-asleep by the time we graduated. We also volunteered for a trail crew on a bike path I would only ride twice more before graduating.
It was quickly determined that I would switch to her room. Carmen had collected the leftovers of paint from other girls who painted their rooms, and painted each wall a different color. I hung chili Christmas lights on the exposed piping and - voila! Mexican cantina! Since the rooms were not allowed to be painted more than once every four years, we chuckled at the next three years of girls who would be stuck inside an Easter egg for their first year. That year, Carmen and I skipped classes, studied late, got jobs, dressed up, ate cafeteria food, talked about boys, watched Friends, cried, laughed, got pissed, got drunk, went to Bridger Bowl, argued about cars, stayed up late, went to bed early, napped, left code words on our door to indicate male occupation, and generally had a good first year of college that we would never want to relive.
Since then, we’ve been really good friends. She’s seen me through many short-lived romances, I’ve seen her through the ups and downs of serious ones. We bicker, we cook, we tell each other “You look great!“ we bike, we dance, we freak out driving in the dark, and now that we’re in different states, we can forget to send presents too. Now we’re getting ready to (okay, I’m playing in Europe, Carmen’s the one being responsible) hike the Pacific Crest Trail, south to North, Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. Carmen and I had a giggle fest last time we talked on the phone: “Next summer, we’re not going to bike, work, shower, shave, use a toilet, clean house, or do anything normal. Every single day, we’re going to get up and walk, hike to the next spot. Why? Because we want to. Why do we want to do this?”
Why do we want to do this? I don’t know if I can put my thoughts into words that won’t immediately seem stupid, nor can I speak for Carmen. How about I leave it at, “It’s our next big adventure.” Carmen is one of the sweetest, moodiest, bravest, and most emotionally aware people I know. I am lucky to be counted amongst her friends, and although we will drive each other nuts as we walk and walk and walk and walk next summer, I’d rather break my right arm in five places and endure blisters for the entire trip than not know Carmen. I hope those of you that know Carmen love her as much as I do, and I hope those of you that don’t have someone like her in your life. To Carmen!