When Lucia and I were 18 years old, we took an impromptu trip to California.
It was late at night in the middle of the Summer, neither of us had work the next day, and we had a full tank of gas.
We were driving around aimlessly in Scottsdale when I suggested a turn-around trip to California, Santa Monica specifically. To my surprise, she didn't say no. Lucia still lived at home at the time, so she called her parents to let them know she'd be crashing at my place - an almost nightly occurance by that point - and I called my friend Josh to see if we could switch cell phones for the night, because mine wouldn't have service in California and neither would Lucia's, and we didn't want to go that far with no phone. This was literally only sign of responsible planning on either of our parts before beginning our journey.
In the middle of the night, armed with a full MP3 player of our favorite music, and a shit load of junk food, we ventured off on the I-10 freeway towards the symbol of freedom and happiness to all young girls - California and the beach.
During the six hour drive, we blasted music, sang along to every song, stuffed ourselves on Chili Cheese Fritos, and stopped twice for sodas and once for a bowl of chili from this truck stop by the border that has really good chili.
Sometimes we talked, sometimes we were quiet. We felt brave, and grown up, and excited.
Just before dawn, we made it to the beach.
It was completely empty, so quiet, a little cold.
Eyes bleary with lack of sleep, we kicked off our shoes, left them in the car, rolled up our jeans, and walked side by side into the sand.
For over an hour we wandered down the shore next to the water, watching the tide go out.
We found a good place to sit and smoked our cigarettes, and talked about everything, but mostly about boys.
Both of us were experiencing a tumultuous end to a relationship at the time and leaned heavily on our shared experience. We were young, emotional, and over our heads in love. We both took our separate break ups hard.
Sometimes around mid-morning we started to get tired and headed back to the car.
After a good 45 minutes of driving around, we found a high school parking lot we could stop in and sleep in the car for a while.
We drove a Dodge Neon.
Sleeping in the car was no easy thing.
On the drive back I remember sitting in the passenger seat and watching Lucia as she drove.
She'd been there for me so consistently in the last few weeks, I felt overcome with gratitude towards her. I don't know how I ever would've made it past that summer without her there.
Over the years I think we all meet fascinating people.
People with incredibly interesting lives, or wealthy families, or maybe some level of celebrity. They show us and introduce us to these new and amazing things, and they are dazzling.
But you learn, with time, to hold on the tightest to the people who have loved you the most consistently through the hardest things.
The people whose kindness and affection and opinion of you did not waiver during moments of weakness or periods of struggle.
People who have come over at 3 am to hold your hand while you cried on the bathroom floor, half drunk and completely heartbroken over a break up. People who have showed up, uninvited, to make you soup and sit on your bed with you while you're so sick all you can manage to do is drift feebly in and out of consciousness for two straight days. People who have listened to you bitch about the same shit, a hundred million billion times, and just let you get through it, no matter how many times or for how many years they had to listen to the same shit. They were just quietly there for you.
Keep these people, hold onto them.
These people who always defend you, who always forgive you, who love you consistently, even at your worst.
Take trips with them, go on adventures together, make memories.
Never let them forget what they mean to you.
These are your soulmates, and they are so rare.