Tuesday, February 22, 2011
An Open Letter to a friend I almost never knew
I told you this letter would eventually come, after I sheepishly (like a dork) asked if I could do it. And just as usual, you were ecstatic. "Yes!! Of course!!" You said. You were supportive of me, for the millionth time.
I've been wanting to write this letter to you because I have so much to say and so much to remember. So it only seems natural to start at the beginning.
We were both suggested as candidates for a national Student Ambassador program at the end of the fifth grade. Although you were on the other side of the country, we were chosen for similar qualities: good grades, charisma, some sort of shining inner talent.
I went to a meeting here in the Midwest to see what it was all about. When I found out I would be traveling to the West, through the world-famous national parks, I was excited. I wanted to see what my world had to offer. I went to meeting after meeting when I was officially "in."
But I was unhappy at almost every meeting. The group would learn about what we would do on our trip, what we would see, etc. We had group bonding activities, so we could learn to be friends. But I was always the odd girl out. It didn't surprise me; I had no social skills whatsoever and I couldn't manage to make a single friend. It hurt, but that's the person I was. I figured I would be fine though, and I could stick to myself, writing in my journal and seeing the sights for what they were.
But I got on the plane and saw all the smiling, giggling people in my group, sitting in their rows, huddled together. I was sitting in the very last row, next to a making out couple. Seeing how awkward I was, I was moved...to right in between the two group advisers. I wanted to go home, I wanted to cry. I put on my headphones and waited til we landed.
When we arrived at the airport, everyone was enthusiastically chatting while we waited for the second half of our group -- the East Coast half, a group we had never met. They arrived and a short girl with dark hair stood next to me, trying to find her bag on the carousel.
"Is that it?" I pointed.
"Yes!" She said.
I grabbed it for her and set it down next to her.
"Thank you!" She said. "What's your name?"
"I'm Monika!" You said. "Let's go, it looks like our group is leaving."
You introduced me to your friend Jennifer, and we talked the rest of the way out, as well as on the car ride. And every car ride after that.
We instantly clicked. Whether we were debating over whether it is called "soda" or "pop" (it's still pop by the way) or staying up way too late for our own good, we bonded much like sisters. Much like we had known each other our entire lives. I didn't feel so alone, and I actually was able to have fun and be myself.
On our second to last day, we were at the good ol' Salt Lake in Salt Lake City. We were sitting in the sand burying our legs, complaining about the smell of rotten eggs and the burning sensation all over our bodies from the salty water.
"Are we going to keep in touch?" I asked.
"Yes! Of course!" You said. "We can email almost every day."
"And send letters twice a week!" I said.
"And call a few times a week too," you added.
Saying goodbye at the airport the next week, we cried like we were sisters being separated in some horrendous divorce. I clearly remember thinking that I would never see you again, and I couldn't think of anything sadder. I had met my best friend soul mate, and she was leaving. Well, we both were. I told myself that that was probably the last time I would see you in person.
When I sat alone on the plane ride home with everyone giggling, smiling or sleeping around me, I smiled to myself with my headphones over my ears. I had made a great friend. Even if we never saw each other again, it was worth it.
But eight years later, here we are. We've had three trips to see each other in those eight years; and although that isn't nearly enough, it's more than I had anticipated all those years ago. And although it's so long until we see each other again, we always pick up right where we left off. It's a true friendship when it seems like no time has passed at all, when no time is ever enough. But since then, we've been to a concert, walked the boardwalks of the beach, sped around an island on a moped, and took over the city of Chicago. It's truly only the beginning.
I just want to say thanks. Thanks for going out of your way to talk to me, to make me feel less homesick or less alone. Thanks for keeping your promise to email...even if it has turned to Facebook messaging as we've evolved through the years. Thanks for keeping your promise as a friend. I love you!
Your Midwest BFF.