There she was, sitting at the edge of the pool at Hotel Zaza in Houston, swinging her toned legs into the water, wearing a white string bikini with her blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail—my friend Gina. Little did I know at the time that we would become such close friends. We met last May when I had moved back to Texas for only about a month. A friend of a friend had reached out to me on Facebook and invited me to come join his friends at the Zaza one Saturday. I ended up going because: a) I had nothing else to do and b) I had next to zero friends and needed to meet new people.
Although she was friendly, Gina and I were briefly introduced to each other and didn’t chat very much. Before I left that day, she came up to me and said: “Girl, I know you just moved here and everything. If you ever want to hang out, here’s my number. What’s your number? I’ll call you sometime.” I saved her number into my phone and gave her mine, not having much faith that I’d ever see or hear from her again. Most of the time, when I meet people in circumstances like that, exchanging numbers can reduced to a perfunctory nicety.
She called the next day. And, surprisingly, it wasn’t an awkward call where I was basically on the phone with a stranger and had nothing to say—we were having a very open and generous conversation with each other right off the bat. There was some crazy cosmic connection that was happening over the phone. We seemed to just get each other. This may sound strange, but I could actually envision a future for our friendship. I took it as a good sign.
A beautiful friendship blossomed in the brief three months when I was living there. We comiserated and consoled eachother over cupcakes and champagne, fried mushrooms and beer, and margaritas with chips and queso. (This last combo is a very Texas thing that I wholly embraced.) We were each other’s plus-ones to events. We danced ‘til two in the morning, and secretly scarfed down Jack in the Box tacos in the car with our heels kicked off. We had conversations that purely consisted of inside jokes and uncontrollable laughter. We were nicknamed “The Gruesome Twosome.”
When I received a call from L’Oreal about a job opportunity, I told Gina I was going to make a trip to New York for the interview process. “I have the feeling that I won’t see you again—that this is for good,” she said. “I know,” I remember responding sadly, “Me too.” She took me to Anthropologie and bought me a pair of crystal-cut glass candlesticks and an Art Deco-esque perfume bottle. I once told her that I couldn’t imagine living on my own again. Moving back home to my dad’s house had me starting from scratch, except, if at all possible, it felt worse. When she picked out the objects, she assured me that I’d probably have my own room one day soon and that she wanted to kick-start my decorating efforts. I was incredibly touched.
Gina is one of the most down-to-earth, funniest, and grounded people I know. I moved to Texas and had to leave my support system of friends in New York when I needed them the most. I thought it would take me years to find and build a good friendship, but meeting Gina dispelled that. Nothing is more uplifting than finding a good friend—Gina is like a margarita for my soul.