During the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I am posting a letter a day expressing thankfulness for someone or something that has played a major role in shaping the first 30 years of my life.
To My Dearest, Oldest Friend,
Over the years, that has become my title for you, Em. We've been friends for a little over 23 years now - I know that because your 8th birthday party was the first party of yours I was invited to, and today you turned 31. Happy Birthday! (And please don't be mad at me for disclosing your age on the internet!) In many ways, you are more like family than a friend. I know this is going to sound incredibly cheesy and Hallmark-y, but anytime I think of you, it is as much with my heart as it is with my head. Years and years of friendship and memories has carved a deep place for you.
Thank you for saying, "I want to sleep next to her!" at your second (third?) cousins birthday party, where we met. I was such a shy 6-year-old (woah ... can you believe your son is almost as old as I was when we met?) and I can still clearly remember anxiously sitting at the table while the other sleepover attendees were vying for sleeping bag spots near the birthday girl that night. Jenny was the only one I knew, and I wasn't the type (back then) to speak up and try to make new friends. I was so surprised and relieved when you pointed to me and announced that you'd be putting your sleeping bag next to mine. And the rest, is history.
Thank you for being one of the most fun people I have ever known. Our imaginations ran wild together, and I am so thankful that I had a friend who just loved to play. Endless hours of American Girl dolls and Barbies filled our childhood ... I can't imagine growing up without you. I can still picture us struggling under the weight of all of our stuff that we would tote back and forth between our homes nearly every weekend. We created whole worlds for our dolls and then disassembled them, only to make something new a week or two later. I remember silly trampoline games we made up and the times we would get in trouble for throwing tennis balls at your parents' fan so we could watch them ricochet around the room. Riding our bikes between our houses, or sometimes downtown to Poor Richard's for some candy or a soda. Making up stories about what we would tell our other friends we were doing if they called when we were together playing dolls (when they had all outgrown dolls, but we hadn't). Visiting your Grandaddy & Grandmomma with you (because I loved them like they were my own). Writing each other letters when we were apart for a couple of weeks in the summer because we missed each other so much. Laughing so, so hard. Babysitting together. Listening on another phone when you talked to boys you liked (because I was always petrified of boys and you were always boy crazy). Crying when I had to move away. Jumping up and down and hugging 4 years later, when we realized we had decided to go to the same college and could room together. Watching Martha Stewart in our dorm room between classes. Going on a couple double dates with you and your future husband. Being in your wedding, and a few years later, you being in mine. Getting to hold your first baby in the hospital - he was so tiny. Being pregnant together with your second and my first. You coming to the hospital to hold my second baby - she was so big.
You are part of the fabric of who I am. With some of these letters I have been writing it has been easy to say, "here is the lesson you taught me," or, "this is what you've meant to me," because the touch on my life from some individuals was brief enough that it is easy to identify the impact. Your friendship has been more like a bass line - always there, a vital constant in the background. Thank you for being a faithful and loyal friend. Thank you for teaching me to be more outgoing when we were young. Thank you for being kind-hearted and not gossipy. Thank you for not being afraid to ask questions or to say what you think. Thank you for being a wonderful example of loving your kiddos so much, but also being real about things that are hard. Thank you for being so amazing at so many things. I admire your eye for color and beauty and fashion so much. Making things lovely just seems to come naturally to you.
Thank you for always making my life lovelier.