As the jet touched ground, I finally stopped crying. Five hours, 23 minutes, 2,401 miles and a disgruntled man who sat next to me during the flight. It had been four years since I had last seen you — four years too long. Although I am sad, I want you to know that watching your life snow ball into a direction that I hope will happen to me one day was admirable and brought me so much joy. You have found love in someone who is gentle, kind, and a total dork (he’s perfect for you). Not only that, but you’re going to be a mom. Seeing you with your little watermelon belly and beaming face made me want to shout to the sky, “Yes! Thank you! She is happy! She deserves everything that is beautiful and good!” Yes, it will be challenging, but I know no one who would be more qualified for the job than you. Watching you have the strength to be ready to conquer motherhood and having courage after everything you have been through, like that one guy who cheated on you like it was nobody’s business and all those “friends” you made after I left and how they treated you so poorly. You have persevered through it all and you are stronger because of it.
Sometimes I feel like the word “best friend” doesn’t cover it. What do you call someone who has been there for you through everything? From 7th grade and every weird scene/emo phase to that one weird hippie/vegan phase you were there to support despite the strangeness of it all. All those times I sat in my room crying because I was certain I was a wretched, ugly thing, you were there to tell me just how untrue that was, no matter how many times I didn't believe you. In fact, you were quite persistent that I was a, “Goddess who deserved the best in this world.” I’m not sure if I can agree, but it always made me laugh. Or how about all the times I sobbed into my pillow because no boy could ever love me, and you were there to tell me how ridiculous I was. And when there was a boy who did love me, but left and in his haste left me broken and confused, you were the first to call me and listened as I screamed and sobbed intelligible things into the phone. That night you may not have been there in person, but you calmed me down and actually made me laugh. Perhaps you are just the other half to my soul, because you always seem to know what to say and how to pull me from the darkest places. No, “best friend” just doesn’t cover it. Not even sister. You are much more than that and I’ll let you know when they finally invent a word that does you justice. The influence you have left on my life has shaped me into the strong woman that I've become.
Seeing you was a dream come true because it was like traveling back in time. From the shenanigans in Target to the late-night talks about our dreams and frustrations-I was thirteen again. All of the inside jokes came flooding back and we laughed until my stomach hurt and my cheeks were sore. As I sat there on your bed looking at the pictures of us on your wall, I longed to be back to the days that we were in middle school and our only worries were whether the boys we had crushes on liked us back and what was the latest horror movie that we had to see. I know that you know that I haven’t been in the greatest place. My heart is still healing from the worst heart break I’ve ever been through, college is hard and it scares me because I question if I am even capable of it at all, and I have no idea which direction my life is headed. But seeing you, reminded me that life happens to you, you don’t happen to it. You reminded me that I am a bad ass, with "all the strengths" as Leslie Knope would say. I am so thankful to you for that reminder.
I'm home now, and 2,401 miles away from you again. The difference is that I am now ready to conquer whatever life throws at me, because you have shown me who I am and can be. Not seeing you is hard. I am grateful that we have phones so we can text and call if we need to, but sometimes life gets in the way and we go weeks without talking. I know it's okay though, because we both know that no matter how long we go without talking, we will pick up right where we left off.
I love you, and will always love you. Here’s to many more years of shenanigans in Target, late-night talks with a side of Hot Cheetos, and a friendship that only lucky people ever get to have.