How did you meet your best friend? Here are the stories of how I met mine.
Catholic elementary school in the suburbs. The girls are all wearing the same thing: red plaid uniform jumpers. Timid children grasping onto their parents hand, wondering why we have to go to school anyways. I don't remember the exact moment I met Christine, (gimme a break, I was 5). I'm sure our parents chatted and we exchanged a nervous smile...or maybe we sat next to each other on the alphabet carpet or played with blocks together and started talking. Any of those are possibilities, and I cannot for the life of me recall exactly how it began. But I do know that for every moment since then, she has been there. When we made our First Communion. When we made the life altering switch from jumpers to skirts and blouses. When we entered our freshman year of high school, not knowing more than a handful of girls. When we learned how to drive. When we went to different colleges. When we grew up. And now, at work. She's always been there, has seen every side of me. Knows my family, what makes me cry, how I deal with death, what I need when I'm scared. She knows what will make me laugh, what I want for lunch, the kind of boy I go for, the kind of boy I SHOULD go for. Everyone has a childhood best friend. I kept mine. I always will. One day we'll be the parents and our little girls will be in red paid jumpers, grasping our hands and exchanging nervous smiles.
Same school. This time, the cafeteria. I am wearing a nun costume; playing cards with a group of girls. We are the nun chorus in The Sound of Music, and in between our very important scenes we laugh until it hurts in the cafeteria. We all have the same motive: we are just trying to fit in. 8th grade can be so taxing. That's why I hang out with the 7th graders. It's a much welcomed break from the drama of my normal friends. A few boys join us, the Nazi's. "Hi, I'm Alex", one says. He fits right in. I laugh at almost everything he says. Eleven years later, I still laugh at almost everything he says. Alex is the friend I am goofiest with, I can say whatever is on my mind and he will respond in his most perfect way. If I had not had Alex as my best friend in high school, I don't think I would have made it. He was the person I turned to for laughter, for drives down Woodward, for free water at Wendy's. Our inside jokes were plentiful, we stood up for each other and stood by each other. We accompanied one another at dances. He cheered me on at my softball games. I remember very clearly the days where we saw each other almost every single day. That doesn't happen anymore. It doesn't need to. Because as soon as we are together we are like those carefree kids laughing at everything that comes our way. We've changed, but our understanding of each other hasn't.
Dark gymnasium at Mercy High School. Tarp on the floor, balloons scattered. Music playing loudly in the background, Ah, a high school dance... and all the nerves that come with it. I'm thinking about that one friend that's been acting kind of strange lately, fingers crossed that she's not mad at me. Because if one friend is mad, they could all turn on me in a second. Then, there she is. A junior, blond hair. Running around the gym with a balloon in her hand. She approaches me and Alex. (See previous :-p). Alex knows her, they are talking and laughing. She's...carefree. Talking a mile a minute about her balloon date with a huge smile on her face. She isn't worried at all, she is who I want to be. She runs off to talk to someone else. I turn to Alex "I don't know what that is, but I need to be her best friend". Simple as that, and a few weeks later we are officially bff's. Sometimes I get emotional when talking about Alicia, because I cannot really adequately express how much she means to me. She's like...she is the kind of person that every one needs in their life. From the start of our friendship I was overwhelmed by her out-pour of love and compassion. She welcomes everyone with open arms and treats them like royalty. Their have been many times in my life when she probably should have left, walked away, given up on me. But she never did. She was there, smiling, giving me encouragement and making me stronger in my faith. I mean it when I say she is the greatest person I have ever known. Our friendship, for the most part, has been distance based. She is a year older than me, so she was in college when I was in my senior year. I went to a different college then her, and after she graduated she moved to Chicago, where she continues to live. But here's the thing about great friendships: distance shouldn't matter. And for us it doesn't. Like Alex, the second Alicia and I come back together we are the same. Laughing, having deep talks, filling each other in on our lives and the latest traumas or celebrations. She is the exact same person today as she was in that gym. More life experiences, sure, but overall, the same heart and the same person. And she has been shaping my life and inspiring me every day since then. I am the lucky one to have her as my best friend.
The bleachers of Waldo Stadium at Western Michigan University. It's a crisp, fall evening. We are surrounded by all the other sonority girls, each performing their own cheers. I am wearing a white t shirt with navy Delta Gamma letters, surrounded by my so called sisters waiting for our new members to "come home". An exciting time of year for Greek life, you can feel the excitement and anticipation as we find out who our new baby deegee's will be. It starts, and one by one we gain a new member. We applaud, jump up and down, and hug each other. It's Sam's turn. I don't know her from a hole in the wall, but my friend Betsy turns to me and says "hold my hand im scared. she needs to come to us.". I feed off Betsy's excitement and suddenly I'm praying that this girl joins our house, too. Sure enough, she reveals her shirt: delta gamma. Later that night, we are back in our sorority house, forcing the new girls to tell us about themselves. Sam says she likes Hanson. "Like, mmmbop?" I ask. Boy, did she school me. She tells me they are still a band and still making music. I can tell music is her passion. I like that. I taking a liking to this Sam character. She's older than me, but transferred into WMU as a junior. I always find her when I'm out with my friends and find I always have fun when she is around. She makes me laugh. Somehow we end up living together with two other girls the next year, Sam's last year. Sorority is done, closed its doors. But our friendship was just beginning. People usually think three things about Sam and I. 1. We met because of American Idol. 2. We're only still friends because of American Idol 3. We're not still friends. False, false, false. What Sam and I have is special. She gets me and I get her, simple as that. I know what she is going to say before she says it. I know how she will react to certain news. And she knows all of these things about me. American Idol does not define our friendship. It's something we have in common, but take it away and she'd still be my best friend. I need her by my side and she needs me...at least I hope she does, because I'll be there anyways.
EDIT: I forgot something about Sam and I. We have been through a lot of losses together. Loss can really mess a person up and it has certainly taken a toll on both of us. But when we could have pushed each other away or avoided it completely, we took a step closer together. We shouldn't have lost the people we did, plain and simple. But we did, and we've made it through those tragedies together.
Detroit Cristo Rey High School. It's my very first day as a mercy volunteer corps member and I am getting a tour of the school from Leon, the dean of students. I'm with my three housemates who I am still getting to know. In one of the classrooms, we meet Dean who gives us a firm handshake. He tells us he lives just a few streets over from our house. What a relief! Someone our age that works with me AND lives by me. Our friendship started off with friendly, brief chats, and eventually developed into kelly clarkson dance parties. Just kidding. The dance parties were just an extra perk. Dean was my rock that year. I felt 100% comfortable talking to him about anything, whether it was frustrations with the students or the mvc experience. He was patient with me and genuinely interested in what I had to say. Looking back, I think Dean really calmed me down. He never got too upset about anything which gave me influence and helped me to settle my nerves. Dean is special, and anyone who is lucky enough to have him in their life knows exactly what I mean. He is not afraid to show how much he cares. He is sarcastic but truthful. And he is wonderful.
A simple google search that led me to A website called www.melindasbackups.com. (Go ahead and roll your eyes, non believers!). American Idol Season 6 has wrapped up, I've gone to tour. Melinda Doolittle was my favorite. I was trying to find other fans. I can't even remember why. I guess I was bored. My search, as I said, led me to that website, and I was introduced to some of my favorite people in the world, and yes, some of my best friends. I read through the threads and saw the genuine love that was shared between members. They prayed for one another, they encouraged each other. How could I turn that away? Sign me up! Things really changed when I started going into the chat room. Someone with the screen name Gemini2 was giving me a hard time for being from Michigan. She is now one of my best friends, my second mother, someone whom I cannot imagine life without. Most of the backups are. I have gone through significant life experiences with them. They are still the ones I turn to when I need prayers, advice, etc. I have a special bond with all of them, besides Gemini2 :) Cathy got me through my senior year of college. Ape is who I want to be as a person. Maria's the sweetheart. Des understands my love for Idol. Babz and Holly got me to do a 1/2 marathon. Shari comments on all my blogs, we share a love for music and writing. Val is my twin, so nurturing and careful. And Jena. Jena's just this positive light in my life. She gives me the best advice, she's tough and gives me strength. They are all my best friends, my family. I thank God every single day for that google search.
My Clinton Township office. I am uneasy and unsure what the day will bring. The office seems dark, the walls are bare and the carpet is in desperate need of cleaning. I can smell the coffee brewing. People are wandering around, there's a line at the copy machine. It's my very first day. My new boss tells me to take a seat at one of the round tables and wait for a nurse who I am supposed to shadow. So I sit with two girls who look to be my age. They are spreading out their paperwork, talking about some of the work politics. I learn that their names are Tierra and Maggie. Tierra turns to me and says "Listen, the old girl before you burned out, so people are going to be leery. Just a heads up". I appreciated her honesty. Maggie says "I was hired in October, so I'm still kind of learning too", and gives me a reassuring smile. I ask them if they are excited to go electronic, they both give nervous laughs. I notice that they seem close, Tierra finishes Maggie's sentences. Both of them laugh and giggle a lot. I decide I like them. The first few months of work, I am way too shy. Plus, Tierra was right. The girl before me burned out, and I had a lot of work to do to fix the mess that she made. Our friendship did not take off right away. It didn't really take off at all, actually, until the company outing: the tiger's game. It was a miserable night, with downpour of rain and tension between coworkers. I sandwiched myself between Tierra and Maggie, and we laughed and swapped stories about work. That's when they became my best friends. Ever since then I'd save them seats at a meeting, or give them looks across the room if we were separated. We would call or email each other during the day to check in or tell each other about something ridiculous that happened. Even though Tierra has since left the company, she remains one of my best friends. We text each other all the time. I miss her. Tierra always made me feel safe, and she always made me laugh. Plus, she was the one who would remind me that I had God to turn to. Mags is just Mags. The sweetest girl you'll ever know, and like most of my other best friends, she just gets me. She too knows what makes me upset. As the two youngin's we have to stick together, and we do a pretty darn good job of that. I do not let a work day go by without talking to her. It has been a relief to have her around not only as an amazing coworker but as a friend.