I put my sweater on, grabbed my bag, closed my locker, and weaved my way towards the staircase in between a sea of white and blue waves crashing. I was planning on taking the subway to the mall after school with my best friend. We met up, got coffee, and 10 minutes later were getting off of the subway and walking up the stairs to an event we were not expecting.
We sat down at the food court with our new friend. Five minutes into the conversation she told us how her friends ditched her.
Ten minutes into the conversation she told us she's in foster care and she was our age.
Fifteen minutes into the conversation she said she lives in the projects.
Twenty minutes into the conversation she told us she loves school, and is studying for her regent.
Twenty-five minutes into the conversation she said she loves earth science, but her school is closing, and there's no money for her to go to college, so she has a job.
Thirty minutes into the conversation she told us there was a drive-by in front of the convenience store she works at.
Thirty-five minutes into the conversation she said that's why she's at the mall, to apply for a job.
And then she said, "It was nice to talk to you, I have to go, bye."
I looked down at my uniform, at my flats, at my backpack, and then up at her and said goodbye. She walked away.
My friend and I turned to each other, but we didn't know what to say.
I think about that encounter very often. I didn't think that something that seemed so inconsequential and, to be honest, annoying at the time, would have such a huge impact on me. I am so grateful to have had that experience with my best friend. She is one of the sweetest, kindest, most generous people I have ever known, and she was impacted by it, too.
Whenever I talk to her, I am reminded of this time. We even say, "Remember when..." and start talking again about how it made us feel. No matter what is going on in our lives, thinking about this moment made us appreciate everything good or bad, big or small. I am reminded how blessed I am to come from a home in a nice neighborhood with parents who want to give me the world and a half, and I'm also reminded how blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people.
My best friend is an amazing person. She is always so understanding. She gives people the benefit of the doubt, even if they may not deserve it. She is always so positive and being around her is truly like a breath of fresh air. She always manages to look at the positive side of things and turn even the worst feelings and experiences into ones that give way to warmth. It is so important to me that she knows how amazing she is because it is easy to be down on ourselves and not realize how much other people care about us.
My best friend is bright and beautiful. She is smart and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She has grown immensely in college and I'm glad she's happy with the woman she is transforming into. Talking to her everyday and even multiple times a week is difficult because we both have such busy schedules, but when we do talk, it is like no distance or time has passed between us.
Many people come and go in our lives. Some people leave even though we really don't want them to. Some people stay, but don't seem to impact us. My best friend is someone who is a steady source of inspiration, understanding, support and beauty.
Without her, I would be so lost. She keeps me grounded, motivated, positive, and open to new things. She's encouraging, and grows with everything she does. She is someone who I should be more like.
Thank you for being such an amazing person. Thank you for being a source of warmth and light in my life. Thank you for being my best friend, and here's to the years to come that you will still be my best friend.