By Beth Howard

We first met our junior year in high school. I overheard her say she wanted to be a poet, and I told her about my similar dream to be a literary genius. The next day she came to psychology class and loaded my desk with her poems. She was wearing a tank top in January, and I thought she was brilliant. We have been the best of friends ever since. We planned our futures together. She was going to art school to become a poet and a fashion designer, and I was going to New York City to begin college and my career as a writer. After graduation I found myself in Richmond, and Trisha boarded a plane to Seattle to attend the Seattle Art Institution.

I turned 21 on Oct. 30, and Patricia turned 21 on Nov. 5. My roommate and her mother gave me a roundtrip plane ticket to Seattle for my 21st birthday to visit my friend for the first time in two and a half years.

Thursday:

I boarded the plane in Louisville Nov. 1. Jennifer, my roommate drove me to the Louisville airport. It was my first time flying.

“It’s really easy,” she said. “Just go into your airline and check-in, check your bags, go through security and get your boarding pass. You’ll be fine.

“You’ll pick up your luggage in Seattle – don’t worry about the layover in Vegas and don’t freak out if your luggage takes a while to come down the belt. Sometimes it takes a while, but they hardly ever lose your luggage.” She hugged me and sent me on my way.

After a layover in Vegas, and the disappointment of not having time to play the slot machines before loading on the next plane, I landed in Seattle at 10:55 that night. Trisha was waiting on me when I got to the baggage claim.

“Let’s go get your bags and show you Seattle!” she screamed. We went to the claim and waited … and waited … and waited.

I remembered what Jennifer said and tried not to freak out, but when everyone on my flight had picked up his or her luggage and the baggage claim stopped running for our flight, I freaked out. I remembered what Jennifer told me, “… they hardly ever lose your luggage.” Lucky me.

An hour later, my suitcase came with the next flight from Las Vegas to Seattle, and I got $50 off my next ticket. There was a bright side to my bad luck — a good omen to bring me back to Seattle one day.

Trisha’s friend Aaram picked us up in his van and showed me the city for the first time – naturally it was raining.

“I’m hungry,” Trisha said. “Where should we eat?”

“We have to take her to Dick’s,” Aaram said. “If she is going to be in Seattle we have to take her to Dick’s.”

We pulled in to Dick’s, a fast-food chain in Washington, and got in line. It is a drive-in restaurant where you walk up to the window and order. I ordered a double, fries and a vanilla shake.

“Can I get the double without pickles?” I asked the cashier. She looked at me disgusted.

“The sandwiches are already made,” she snarled and put the double in the bag. I definitely felt like a tourist.

Friday:

We got up early and headed to downtown Seattle and the Pike Place Market. We stopped at the Saigon Deli in China Town and had spring rolls and a tofu sandwich for breakfast.

When we got to the market I instantly recognized it from all of the movies I have seen. Trisha works at a bakery in the market, and we stopped there for coffee. The famous flying fish market is next door to Trisha’s work, and we got lured in.

“Two Kentucky girls in Seattle,” one of the workers yelled. “You gotta get up here.” We stood in front of the stand, and the guys tossed huge fish over our head. I ducked, but one still grazed the top of my head. Everyone applauded. I was disgusted at the ice in my hair and exhilirated that I had survived and been a part of the infamous “flying fish market.”

We shopped all day throughout the market, wishing we had more money to spend. It seemed there was a store for everything. I wished I could get the autographed Beatles “Let It Be” album, and Trisha wanted an antique copy of the Wizard of Oz. We made a mental note to come back for them one day when we are rich and famous.

That night we went to Bill’s Off Broadway, a local bar that Trisha and her friends hang out in. I began the night with a Bloody Mary to celebrate my new legal status and the opportunity to see my friend. I don’t remember much after that…

Saturday:

We woke up, put pink highlights in my hair so I would feel like a true Seattle native, and then we shopped all day. We hit up the oxygen bar and cleared our heads. I ended the day with $20 to my name and a new knowledge of thrift shopping, which has ruined my ability to shop at a mall.

We got our pictures made in a photo booth and ate at Dick’s again. We are officially “aDICKted.”

That night we visited with Trisha’s friends, including her boyfriend Rouman, who is an artist, and her roommate Joe, who is the drummer for a band named Skarp. We took pictures and packed up all of my stuff. Roumen gave me a poster of one of his original drawings, and Joe gave me a Skarp shirt to bring back to Kentucky.

My short visit was coming to an end. We fixed macaroni and cheese with broccoli and veggie burgers to drown our sorrows.

Sunday:

My plane was leaving Seatac airport at noon. Due to the three-hour difference in time I woke up at 8:30 a.m. (which felt like 11:30 a.m. our time), and I thought I was late. After waking Patricia up and feeling like a jackass for freaking out, we gathered up the last of my luggage, cried and took some pictures.

Trisha, Aaram and Roumen dropped me off at Southwest. Trisha and Roumen helped me with my luggage to the check-in station. We said our goodbyes, cried, hugged and made plans to visit soon. Watching them walk away I missed her already. I wondered when I would see her again.

Two hours later:

I am seated next to an elderly Phoenix lady on the plane ride home. I have a layover in Phoenix, and I am arriving home at 11:55 p.m.

“Where are you heading to?” she asked me.

“Louisville, Kentucky,” I said.

“Wow, you’re really far from home.”

I looked out the window as the city got smaller and smaller.

“Yeah, I am,” I said. “But somehow it didn’t seem that far away.”