My best friend drove up from Indianapolis to see me last night. She called me Tuesday to let me know she was coming up and I tell you, I was like a kid the night before leaving for Disney World.

We have a fairly low maintenance friendship. We call each other once or twice a week to do "temperature checks" and every couple of months one of us makes the trek down I-65. Usually she's the one doing the traveling. I'd be happy to drive there, but she's got five boys and a successful design business, so her jaunts to Chicago are a much-needed escape. For twelve hours - the average length of her visits - it's just a couple of girls drinking some riesling and talking about boys (and our businesses, and our future, and our kids, etc etc).

Well, that's what they're like now. The first couple of years after I moved here we did things a little differently. Usually it was cocktails, then dinner and wine, then dancing. We still laugh about the time she came out of my bedroom wearing pants and a cashmere sweater and I just shook my head and said "Oh no, honey" and proceeded to dress her in a mini-skirt.

Then there was the time we had to fend off a group of 21-year-old frat boys at Excalibur (yes, I know, we deserved it for being at Excalibur in the first place - and I think we were wearing mini-skirts) who kept trying to separate us. The kicker was when one said to Kristine "I've always wanted to be with an older woman." We were out of there faster than you can say Mrs. Robinson. (That reminds me of another Kristine story, but I'll leave that for another time.)

Another visit a guy from Tasmania wanted me to write my phone number on his stomach. I appreciated that he just wanted to show me his 6-pack, and it was impressive, so I wrote it backwards to make it easier to read in the mirror. Of course a woman should probably never write her phone number on someone's stomach, which was proven the next day when he left me a message saying he wanted to take me out for ice cream and he loved me. Those Tasmanians sure do move fast.

Well, the older, and (supposedly) more mature we get, the calmer our get-togethers become. I've gotten over the newness of living in Chicago. I still, very obviously, love this city, but I've realized that when Kristine comes to see me, she's coming to see ME.

Last night at 6:30 I met her outside as she was walking to my apartment with a cold beer in hand (why am I single? I greet visitors with frosty libations!). After we got her settled in we headed out for dinner. It was pouring down rain and I offered to go back up to get an umbrella and she said "No, let's walk in the rain. When was the last time you walked in the rain?"

This is why I love her.

We picked up some sake at the liquor store, shared some Japanese at the restaurant at the end of my block, talked and laughed and cried and walked back in the rain.

In my apartment we sat on the couch and talked and laughed and cried some more. We went to bed and talked and laughed and cried until she fell asleep. This was a turn-around. Normally she'll be chatting away and I'll struggle to keep my eyes open. It's happened so frequently that she'll put a Starbucks espresso can on my pillow when I visit her.

Kristine left at 6am this morning. You'd think a visit that short would just leave me wanting more. But, it was OK. Yes, I would have liked more time with her, but I'll take what I can get. Spending any amount of time with someone who "gets" you chases away the loneliness, and when the two of you always pull laughter out of the tears, it can only leave you with a smile.