for Annie

I wrote this a few weeks ago when I got to see one of my dearest dears, and today it’s her 22nd birthday. I decided to share it with the rest of you today; first of all to celebrate the wonderful woman she’s become, and with the hope that it makes you think of one of your best. I hope you find yourself the same way I did: in tears, sincerely thanking them for their place they fought for in your life.

I got a hour face to face with my sweet friend of 17 years. Ann Elizabeth is normally 1,990 miles from me. (Yes that’s exactly how many miles. I refuse to round up because it would just create more distance between me and my main girl.) It was only an hour because she was barely in town for three days before she headed up to San Francisco with her college friends for her last spring break. One late hour Monday night was the only hour that lined up for both of us. 

But in the course of sixty minutes, I recognized how friendship works. It works in turning away from the streaming television to look into my eyes and ask how I’m really doing. It works in sharing memories from the first grade to a room full of people who don’t quite understand but laugh along. It works in soft conversation amongst a group of people, finding quality time in the midst of chaos. We realized that even though it’s been weeks since we’ve been able to talk, our lives still line up perfectly. We realized God’s been doing that thing where He’s teaching us the same exact lessons at the same exact time even when we’re 1,990 miles away. We kept saying, “no way! me too!” and in seconds I felt so much less alone. I knew that regardless of the states between us, Annie was by my side just as she has been for the past 17 years.

Annie’s the kind of friend where I don’t get to see her or talk to her often enough, but as soon as I do, it’s like not a minute has passed. She’s a friend that my soul gets along with. She’s the kind of friend that in an hour’s worth of time, my soul feels full and rested and content, because she gets me even when I don’t get myself. Friendships like hers are like nourishment for a famished soul. Having someone I can be this close with, this in sync with, and this emotionally vulnerable with makes me understand God’s plan for intimacy. It’s knowing each other fully: their character, their humor, their bruises. It’s caring for each other without counting the cost to yourself: meeting them where they are at, putting their needs first, leaving your judgments at the door. It’s someone who sees your struggles, encourages you in your efforts, holds your hand tight at the end of a long day. It’s someone you never need to impress or prove anything to, it’s someone who leads you out of the darkness and never leaves you there to fight for yourself. They give grace like it’s going out of style and they remind you of why you are worthwhile. Her friendship gives me hope for the scary future: knowing that after 17 years with whoever I may end up marrying, there is hope that our relationship will look similar to this friendship kind of intimacy. That I could walk alongside someone that knows me as well as Annie does. 

We joked that our friendship was old enough to go to an R-rated movie. We are still in the decision-making process for what that movie will be, and once she’s back for summer I’m looking forward to watching it together in our pjs.

As I went to leave, she hugged me tightly and said: 

“Thanks for not changing. Not as a person, but as my friend.”

That’s true companionship: because praise the Lord we are not the same 5 year old princesses or 9 year old tomboys or 11 year old brats or 15 year old insecurities or 17 year old naiveties or 20 year old heartbreaks. We’ve grown up together, we’ve matured and we’ve changed on our own, and that’s healthy and good. We can come back together to celebrate our victories over anxiety and our steps towards adulthood and our questions we are still trying to answer. Through each disappointment, through each creative venture, and through each timid step into the unknown, our friendship has grown alongside us, becoming deeper and wider and more meaningful with each year, and my soul feels much more confident blazing new trails with ol’ faithful at my side.  

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