Sprinkle Liberally: Friends are the Salt of Life

You could spot my friends and I from the other side of the cafeteria. We’d crammed about seven chairs too many around a round table and were laughing uproariously. I clambered over my chair into my spot and moved someone’s wallet to make space for my plate.

Sometimes, we were super quiet at lunch, sitting together and just enjoying being still. This time, however, we were being obnoxiously loud. I took a drink of water and noticed there was a little too much attention tossed my way from around the table. I was quick to dismiss it, taking another mouthful of water. I noticed Jo trying to smother a smirk, just as my taste buds were assailed by a revolting overload of salt. In my water. Classic.

I sputtered and spit the water into my glass, and the whole table burst out laughing. It’s okay, though, because I’m notorious for stealing forks and hiding plates when people get up and leave the table. Once, I’d managed to convince someone that salt reacts chemically with butter to create heat, then smashed their hand down into a pat of butter when they went to test it. Blame my sister. She taught me everything I know.

That’s the beauty of Freshman year, when you all have similar schedules and can eat together all the time. I mean, it still happened my Sophomore year, but even then we were all starting to get into our different majors and had more varied schedules.

There’s beauty in having different schedules too, though. It helps you get out of your comfort zone and get to know new people. One semester, sophomore year, only one friend and I had the same lunch time three days of the week.

Those lunch time meetings are something I am beyond grateful for. Jo is one of those people you meet once in a lifetime. She’s kind, sweet, so incredibly caring, and has the most wonderful sense of humor. We’ve never lived very close to each other, nor have we shared many classes. If it wasn’t for lunch time our sophomore year, I might never have gotten close to her. I’d prowl the cafeteria looking for her brown school bag, and then we’d sit and eat and commiserate over our homework together.

As a Junior, I have to be more intentional about meeting certain people for lunch, but I love the fact that I can have those intimate moments and talks with much smaller groups. Next time we all eat together as a big group, maybe I’ll put some salt in someone’s water. You know, for old time’s sake.

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Valerie McArthur

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