We love books, most certainly. But our love of books stems from a love of each other. On her birthday, I’d like remind my best friend and fellow blogger, Ali, of our own story (which would make for one comical book). Happiest of Birthdays Ali! May you enjoy ALL the books and ALL the adventures you find out on the open Sea!
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It’s amazing how love and hate can manifest into the same thing. That or one envelops the other and you completely forget that the first one ever existed. And it’s funny how love and hate manifest themselves into the same people. We view life as loving one thing and hating it’s inverse, but I think that’s too plain of an assessment of how the world truly spins.
Love and hate in the same place, in my life, is my best friend. Nothing else is such a crystal depiction of this relationship to illustrate my point. The chronology of the relationship with my best friend: “She’s mean,” to “Why the heck won’t this girl leave me alone?” to “OH MY GOD SHE FOLLOWED ME COLLEGE,” to “Okay, she’s actually kind of funny,” to snorting and gasping for air I’m laughing so hard at a joke derived from a spelling error left on a note left for me on a desk in the college student office area. The humor, the candor, the friendship, the love—it totally embraced and overcame the hate that had existed before.
In high school, Ali and Alex were ambitious young folk. Both in the Advanced Placement courses, both in Model UN, singing, dancing, sports, you name it. Even from different high schools, these two young girls seemed to frequently cross paths. In high school Model UN simulations they would, un-diplomatically, give each other snide looks, thinking this girl is a fool to think she can mess with me; what’s with that stupid blonde ponytail anyway? An Iran to each other’s United States… absolutely no hope for peace.
Yet they managed to find each other, again, in college. At an open meeting for the college Model UN team they ended up sitting next to each other, giving each pleasant smiles and secret dirty looks. Two rivals, the epitome of yin an yang- a brunette chemistry major into environmental issues; a blonde political science major with a nerd crush on the Security Council.
After an adventurous trip to Boston with the Model UN team, love slowly began to overcome hate. Awkward teammates became friends, friends became awkward suggestions of “what are you doing this weekend,” which then manifested into LETS DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER. Forever they became Ali and Alex, inseparable and unstoppable.
I’m glad I decided to grow up and not view my best friend as “the enemy.” I wouldn’t be half the woman I am now without her. When I am down on my luck, she always calls. When I am in a mode of self-pity, she kindly reminds me to put on my big girl panties and move on with life. She has challenged me as a friend, athlete, academic, and as a woman generally.
She is also the only person in the world who thinks its funny when I openly dance up and down the aisles of Target like an idiot. She’s embraced my voices so much, we both answer the phone with, “AWWW HERRRO” (see Team America Kim Jung Il Voice). She also turns blue in the face with laughter when I tell her “Aw man, mile 4 of that race I totally hurled in a bush,” when my mother just rolls her eyes at me when I tell her things like that. Someone with that amount of patience should be treasured and appreciated always, because let’s face it: I am a pain in the ass to deal with sometimes (especially my knack for puking on command).
You may be wondering why I am writing this—or why I am sitting in a classroom in a Chicago law school tearing up as I write all of this. This year my best friend is embarking on the great adventure and challenge of her life. From her comfortable life in Southern California she up and packed everything and headed to Alaska for a fishery observation job. Pushing herself to the max (dude have you seen the show Deadliest Catch? That’s my best friend, if that’s not ballsy then I don’t know what you do for a living, but don’t spoil the fun for me here). Ali has decided to embrace a world unknown, simply to know more about it and to know more about herself.
What this means? This is the first year where I truly feel far apart from her. We have spent the last three years living in different states. Sometimes that means I fall asleep with my mouth open while texting her (to which she usually assumes I passed out and calls me in the morning) and sometimes that means we can’t eat cookie dough and drink red wine together on the tough days. We can’t sit on kitchen counters and cry with each other, run races together, or remind each other, in-person, of how insanely talented the other one is. It’s hard to not have that. Some of my fondest memories are sitting on the kitchen counter in my grandparents’ house, stuffing cookie dough in our mouths and laughing insanely hard at the stupid predicaments we manage to get ourselves into. Now I do that alone, in my own apartment, imagining she’s here with me.
But when your friend takes to the Alaskan seas, you worry more. You say a prayer that she’s having a safe and wonderful time. And when you’re wondering if she’ll have text messaging on a big, scary boat, you’re first thought isn’t I wonder how her mother feels, but its more WHO IS GOING TO READ MY EMOTIONALLY COMPROMISED TEXTS? WHO WILL LAUGH AT MY PUPPY GIFS? WILL THE BOOK BLOG SURVIVE? …Little pieces of your life that only your best friend can provide you with.
This year she is somewhere in some gorgeous body of water in Alaska. I can’t send her a birthday card I’ve spent a month looking for (our card sending standards are incredibly high). I can’t send her a cute new top or new bike cleats for her birthday. I can’t take her for a drink, like I took her to her first drink when she turned 21-years-old. I just can’t do any of that.
But my best friend reminds me that I can write and sometimes when I express what I feel, well, that’s the best gift I can give to anyone.
My dearest Ali: I hope you have laughed through some of this, and I hope at parts, you did cry even though you told me not to make you cry. I have this perfect image of you in my head standing at the edge of your big boat, books and gear in hand, embracing this amazing chapter of your life. I know I am stuck in Chicago, but no matter how far we go, you’re always the yin to my yang. Opposites, sure, but so the same person more than we care to admit. I apologize for every time someone called you Alex or AP or Al. But maybe take that as a sign as to how the world views us- two peas in a pod, the same girl with different tastes in just about everything.
Thank you for being the best enemy turned best friend a girl could have ever asked for. I’ll be saving a spot on the kitchen counter and a pack of cookie dough for you when you get home.