I am six hours away from everything I've ever known — maybe eight or nine depending on traffic. My family. My dog. My favorite Japanese food. My friends.

I used to know exactly who I was. I had everything figured out for the most part. I was so eager to get out of that little town in New Jersey, the days couldn't go by fast enough. I was ready for my life to begin.

I was never afraid of what the future would hold. I was excited. I was excited for new friends and new classes and new places to explore. I was excited for change. But I never anticipated how the changes in my environment would change me. I knew I would grow and learn, but I've realized that my heart and my state of mind have also changed.

I feel things differently. I think differently. I am different.

And so are you.

When you packed up your stuff and flew to California, I was worried we would never see each other again.

When you two decided to go to the same college, I was afraid I would be cut out of this friendship.

When you took a gap year, I was scared that you would find so much more than what I could give you.

The crazy thing is that now, we are closer than ever. We have new stories to tell, new ideas to share, memories to reflect on and plans to make. Maybe we have changed, but we changed together.

Now, I'm not so sure who I am, I have tons left to figure out, and I can't wait to get back to my little New Jersey town. Maybe it's different for you, but whatever's ahead of us, I am so excited for it.

I am so excited to hug you and laugh with you and stay up all night watching random things we find on the internet. I can't wait to go down the shore with you and stand in the ocean until the waves knock us off our feet. I can't wait to go to New York City with you and get Japanese-inspired Mexican food. I can't wait to have picnics in the park and just talk with you like we used to. You are my home, no matter where we find ourselves.

Things have changed, but we are better because of it. We love with more of our hearts. We stretch our smiles the widest they can go. We laugh despite the challenges we face.

Your friendship always reminds me of the good — that no matter how far it is stretched, love is the dominant force in the world. With time, high school foes will fade from our minds, but the people we love — the ones we really, truly love — stay there forever. No matter how far or how long, when this love is tested, it triumphs. And I think that is the greatest thing.

Here's to us. Who we were. Who we are. And who we will be.