GROUP TEXT WITH LONG DISTANCE BESTIES – I was twenty-eight years old when I moved to Chicago for graduate school. I was elated to say the least. For starters, it’s Chicago – one of the coolest cities. Also, I was getting out of my hometown of Toronto, which was always a plus. I had been accepted in to The Adler School of Professional Psychology for a Masters degree in Counselling and Organizational/Industrial Psychology. Every other program I had applied to offered either a master’s in counselling or organizational psychology, but not both within a two-year time span. It was a no-brainer for me. I would be leaving after two years with two degrees that would give me significantly more employment opportunities then if I had pursued either one alone. So I packed my bags and hopped on the plane to my new apartment on North Dearborn street.
I was very excited about school. I had always known I would be a psychotherapist. In high school I was interested in listening to people’s personal stories, offering an empathic ear and able to identify what was truly going on underneath their stories. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I got a fortune cookie one night at a Chinese food restaurant that said, ‘You have a keen awareness for the undercurrents that lay beneath the surface of events.’ I mean, clue much! There was no doubt that counselling in my future. However, I was also interested in business. More specifically, I was interested in how I could apply my understanding of human behaviour on a significantly larger scale. After all, if we understand human thought, feeling and behaviour, we can identify the factors that not only inspire and motivate others towards enhancing maximum performance, but we can also identify and address the factors that hinder performance. It was all very cool. I was excited. And I was focused.
So focused in fact, that I failed to make any connections at school. I went to class, to the gym, and home to study. That was my daily routine. As personality tests go, I’m smack down the middle between being an introvert and an extrovert. So reading, writing, working out and curling up in my bed to watch a show on Netflix suits me just fine. I was doing great! Until about eight months in to my program when it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t had any social interaction whatsoever. So the very next day I went into class to find a friend.
For the first time in eight months I looked around the room at the other students in my class. And there she was. Jesyca had fire-engine red hair, freckles that could warm even a sociopaths heart, and wore purple Uggs on her feet that said, ‘I’m funky, I’m fearless, and I don’t give a rats ass what you think of me.’ I walked over to her and asked her if I could sit beside her. After seizing me up for what seemed like forever, she responded, “We’re going to be besties.” And that was it. I was totally in love with her. She was outspoken, funny as hell, complicated, and incredibly smart. We were soulmates. Not in a romantic sense, as my handsome husband fills that slot. But I do believe that you can have more than one soulmate, and she was definitely one of mine. And in an ironic twist of events, she lived right around the corner from me. I mean, literally, right around the corner. We wrote notes in class about our hot forty-something year old each other and spent evenings ordering in Chinese while watching the latest Grey’s Anatomy. All was right with the world again.
As part of my curriculum for my graduate program, I needed to complete a certain amount of counselling hours. That’s how I found Wellspring Camps, an organization focused on tackling the epidemic of adolescent obesity. The camp itself was located in upstate New York and I would be living there over a ten week period during the summer. I would have a caseload of twenty clients, who I would see twice a week, in addition to running a few group sessions each week. I couldn’t wait to get there. That’s where I met Stacie, another recent graduate who had come to Wellspring to fulfill her required counselling hours. You knew she was the real deal the second you met her. Her chocolate-brown eyes were constantly filled with love, and her smile made you want to give her a bear hug. She was down-to-earth, pure, and always ready for a laugh. We bonded immediately. And by ‘bonded’, I mean bitched. The internship was nuts! We worked six days a week, usually eighteen hours, and had very little opportunity to create a separation from the clients as we were living in dorms with them right down the hall. We would see them in the morning on the way to the bathroom, at all meals when they would approach our table to chat, and at night time when they would knock on doors well after it was time for bed. The work itself was hard. It was rewarding but hard. Seeing eight clients a day without any real opportunity to decompress afterwards was draining. I’m talking sucked-dry draining. We were exhausted and emotionally drained. So at night time, we would hang out in each others rooms to discuss the day and vent. We were each other’s life line. I don’t think I could’ve survived that summer without her. It bonded us for life hard and fast.
When I found out that she lived on North Dearborn street, I nearly fell off my chair. Not only did she live on the same street, but we were on the same block! What are the odds that the two incredible women I meet both live on the same block? It was beyond magic. Stacie joined Jesyca and me on our evenings, and introduced us to Felicity, starring Keri Russell, Scott Speedman, and Scott Foley. The show had already aired but somehow I managed to miss it entirely. So we all curled up on the couch under a blanket to watch the love triangle between Felicity, Ben, and Noel. Life couldn’t get any better.
Unfortunately, school was coming to an end and I knew it was time for me to move back to Toronto. I had gotten a job at a very cool consulting firm, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Sadly, I packed up my apartment and got in the truck with Stacie to drive back home. I’ll admit, it was kind of heart-breaking. I knew our time together would dwindle significantly. We were seeing each other pretty much every other day and speaking daily. I knew things were about to change forever, and I was not happy about it. At all. I knew we were all moving on to different phases of our lives, and would stay in touch. But it would never be the same. We would get on a call every few months to catch up, and when we did, it was as if no time had passed. That’s what it’s like with soulmates. But we were catching up as opposed to being actively involved in the minute details of everyday life. It sucked. It sucked big time.
That’s when we discovered the ‘group text’. I have no idea what took us so long to figure it out, but when we did, it CHANGED EVERYTHING. Seriously. Just short of knowing about bowel movements, we know what’s going on in each other’s lives every day. We connect at some point to hear about how Stacie is surviving motherhood for the first time or about Jesyca’s recent training course that involved horses, which I believe is called Eagala therapy. We don’t just cover the large bases anymore. We share our thoughts, our feelings, and excitement at the latest Bridget Jones movie coming out. Although we live in Toronto, New York, and now Utah, we are more connected than we’ve been in ten years.
So, thank you group text because THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING!