I honestly can't remember a time in my life when we weren't friends. We met in kindergarten and have been in school together for *literally* more than a decade. We had never lived more than a 5-minute walk from each other until we moved away from college. We had every major life milestone together: round one (and two) of braces, broken bones, first sleepovers with PG-13 movies, first cars, grade school and high school graduations, homecomings and proms, and everything in between. We made it through thick and thin, good times and bad, 6th-grade puberty and high school (attempts) at glow-ups. Basically, there is not a single memory I have where there isn't a picture with you commemorating it.
I didn't realize until I got to college how rare the friendship I have with you is. Apparently, most people don't still talk to their high school friends, let alone their grade school best friends; however, I always assumed it was normal to have a friend and friend-group for your whole life. I mean, how could I leave you behind and never hang out with you again when only little things like a state-line and time difference separate us. Heck, we'd made it through high school drama together! the Indiana-Missouri border was not going to be the biggest obstacle in our friendship. It never even crossed my mind that we wouldn't always be friends.
Just because we've been friends forever doesn't mean we always get along. Sometimes, I even think *because* we've been friends for so long, we get along worse than some newer friendships. We aren't afraid to tell each other what we think anymore. Occasionally this honesty might not be what the other person wants to hear, but in the long run, I always value your opinion over anybody else's because I know you're the one person who will give me un-censored, completely honest, (sometimes unasked for) advice. And I respect you and cherish your friendship enough to always do the same for you, even if what I say and think isn't always what you might want to hear.
I've always thought to myself that friends are the family we get to choose. And Mon, you're the sister I chose first and never want to get rid of. Friends are the sisters that we get to rant to when our real sisters are driving us crazy, the shoulder we get to cry on when the world seems like it's overwhelming, and the family and siblings we get to have even if we don't have any of our own. The longer you're friends with someone, the more authentic (and familial) the relationship becomes.
We don't have all the same hobbies, or watch the same types of movies, or read the same (or any) books. We don't get to spend every waking moment together anymore or even talk every day. Sometimes you can drive me crazy, and I am 100% positive that I can drive you crazy most days too. But it isn't in the ways that we're different, or even in the ways that we're the same, that have made us such good and long-lasting friends. What's made us friends, sisters even is that time and growing up tests friendships in the fire, and we have always made it out stronger together. Happy 21st Birthday Monica!