Good friends are very difficult to find, and even more difficult to be separated from for long stretches of time. That is why it is incredibly frustrating to set aside a weekend to visit one such person, and then have the weekend go drastically wrong. Even more frustrating is the reason for the botched visit. And what, you may be wondering, is the reason? One simple word ruined what would have been a marvelous, fun-filled reunion between three best friends. The three primary characters in this tale of laughter, disappointment, and unintelligible roadway maps are Missy, Sam, and myself.
Now, before I go any further, I believe some introductions are in order. Missy, or Melissa Hoch, to be precise, is my best friend in the world and has been for quite some time. We have already decided that we are going to become crazy, kooky elderly women together, a future I have absolutely no doubt will come true. Missy is the type of person who can walk into a room filled with strangers and leave the room knowing every person’s life story, plus the names of all their pets. (This particular trait has caused much envy and distress on my part.) Sam, or Samuel Petersen, to be exact, is my other best friend and Missy’s special fellow. Now, to get along with Sam, all you need is sarcasm, a cup of coffee, and a ready laugh. Most of the time, I happen to possess all three, so we get along famously. Sam is a nut, and this nuttiness is perhaps the reason we drove for nine hours without accomplishing remotely anything. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
College is the reason our blessed trinity has been scattered all about, and we have not taken kindly to the separation. This is why Sam and I came up with the brilliant idea to visit Missy in the small city of Menomonie, where she attends school at the University of Wisconsin- Stout. Now, since neither of us had ever been to Menomonie, we figured it would probably be best to figure out directions. So, like any young person in today’s world, Sam used the reliable source of the Internet. We printed off the directions; everything was great. So we set off on what was quickly promising to be a very exciting, much-needed road trip.
Up to the point where we got lost in some strange town with a name so unremarkable I cannot even begin to remember what letter it started with, we were feeling pretty clever. One very unique trait Sam possesses, which is unusual of most of his kind, is that he has no reservations whatsoever about asking for directions. So here we are, sitting in the parking lot of a gas station in the middle of Milwaukee, Sam poring over a roadway map he had just purchased for five dollars, me on my cell phone with my dad, my hand running through my hair increasingly faster with each stroke as I get more and more flustered, and neither of us have any fathomable notion of where we have landed ourselves. I figure we must have looked incredibly desperate, for two twenty-something, rather good looking fellows, paused on their way out of the convenience store, their arms laden with caffeinated beverages and salty snack items, and asked whether or not we were lost.
Well, it turned out we were. Lost, that is. If you call being four hundred miles east of where you had intended to go lost. Long story short, when looking up the directions, Sam, in his infinite wisdom, typed in “Menomonie Falls” instead of good, plain old “Menomonie.” Why he did so, he does not even know. It is almost like the mystery of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop: the world may never know.
How do I know that good friends are hard to find? Well, it is really quite simple. If I had been stuck in a car for nine hours with any other person, besides perhaps Missy herself, and then been told we had been in that car for no reason whatsoever, I doubt either of us would have survived the trip home. But since it was with someone I truly, genuinely care about, it was okay. It is even quite hilarious, when you think about it. So, although the day ended with disappointment, and tears shed from all three of the “trinity”, we all came out of the experience with a better understanding of how much we truly love each other. And that is worth nine hours in a hot, uncomfortable car any day.