After graduate school, my husband and I returned to the Bay Area, where I got a job as a program assistant at UC Berkeley Extension in San Francisco. A few months in, the Berkeley-based office manager, Nicole Magnuson, came to visit and invited me to join her for lunch. Nicole is a generous soul who considers every co-worker a potential friend. We maintained a casual, work-based friendship until a few years later, when my marriage suddenly ended. For the first time in my life, I was living alone. My friendship with Nicole deepened and became an important source of companionship, comfort, and fun during that painful transition. She also introduced me to Kara Nielsen, a former Extension employee who became one of my dearest friends. Since 1997, the three of us having been celebrating our birthdays together with festive dinners out — a beloved tradition still going strong after 25 years.