Friday, August 05, 2011

circle of friends-full circle.

Friends are the family you chose.
I've tried to write this post only a jakillion times in the past two months {after we met for our annual roommate reunion in San Diego the first weekend in June} and somehow I can never seem to find the perfect weaving of words to describe how special the dynamic is that fills the room when we're together. How their presence in my life inspires me. What our weekend rendezvous do for my soul. What the memories we have made together mean to me. 
We're more than just friends... bigger than best friends... deeper than soul sisters... perhaps there is just not a single term that defines us... more like a story that is slowing ripening, continually evolving as we grow, consistently strengthening as we do, individually + together. 
Jess + Megan (on the right) have known each other since kindergarten. Carly + I (on the left) met at a school dance in the fourth grade when she asked to trade boyfriends. {for the record, I said no.} We all knew each other in high school but hung out in very different cliques. 
Jess + I became closer throughout our four years at E.H.S., first sharing our lockers for logistical purposes freshman year and then leading our class as president + vice for the latter three. 
Carly + Megan bonded on the weekends over boys + handstand contests {sorry ladies, that just still cracks me up when I think about in comparison what {un}innocent things I was doing on the weekends!} and they became close friends, too!
... and then we all ended up at the same university three hours from home after one Homecoming queen crown, one valedictorian speech and a glorious graduation that closed the {year}book on our dreaded high school days. Peace out, '04!
Jess + I ordered matching hibiscus + striped bedding from PBTeen to commence our dorming adventures together and coincidentally, Carly + Megan were dormmates in the hall one grassy lawn away from ours! One random afternoon, we ran in to them when we were going apartment shopping for our big move off campus the following Fall. We invited them along because they were planning on moving out of campus housing, too.
We started the morning off looking at two-bedroom floor plans and by the end of the day, like some perfect act of the friendship gods, we finalized our selection over a few Moo-Moo Mr. Cows on a four-bedroom place {which could possibly go down as the world's easiest apartment hunt in apartment searching history!}
We didn't realize it at the time but it was the beginning of one beautiful friendship... between four completely different girls... at a time in our lives when we would need one another the most.  
We headed home for the summer and everyone warned us that moving in with friends was a bad idea. 4 girls in one apartment? You'll end up hating each other. I'm so glad we blatantly ignored the wrongful advice and carried on painting every wall some insanely bright shades of green + yellow in our new apartment... and began filling the picture frames with tangible memories that would turn our apartment full-o-life into a home-away-from-home. We called it our apartment sweet apartment

We quickly became an inseparable sisterhood {Lynly Ganica} and it didn't take long for us to realize that the days were over when we would ever part from each other's low-rise-jean-clad hips. Akin to the way a mother describes her inability to remember a life before having babies, I cannot remember a life without the three of them in it. 
We decorated our doors for every birthday with embarrassing pictures. We made breakfast together every Sunday. We coordinated Halloween costumes. We spent hours getting ready to go out and even more hours laying in one of our beds laughing all night with a bottle of wine and fresh made Funfetti cupcakes. We were there the night(s) we realized we were in love and we helped each other through the messy break-ups that eventually followed. We found our individual niches in cheerleading, improv, group fitness and intramurals. We cooked holiday feasts + hosted ostentatious jubilees. We joined the facebook. We took our four completely different styles and made one communal closet. We studied together and advised each other on which major we should stick with {which I think between the four of us changed about sixteen different times}. We had a new appreciation for 80's music, DMB and Tom Petty. We roadtripped to football games, FL/GA, surfing in St. Augustine and cabins in the mountains. We made an infinite amount of incredible memories and as each new semester started, I was so happy that we continually renewed our lease... and they would continue to reside across the hall. 
Graduation weekend was one of the best memories where we got to have our proverbial cake and eat it, too!. We had done it! and we merrily skipped across the stage in an itchy, oversized polyster gown with a Gator emblem glittered on the top of our caps to receive the diploma that proved it. Our families surrounded us and we hosted one last keg party to celebrate our accomplishments! 
But when the weekend festivities came to an end, everyone headed home and just the four of us were left sitting around the dining room table that Meg had refinished, drinking a spoiled bottle of wine Carly + I brought back from our semester abroad in Italy. We clung tight to each other reminiscing of all the good times we shared in a feeble attempt to avoid acknowledging the elephant in the room: the reality that we wouldn't be returning together in the Fall. We struggled to stay in the moment + make our final hours as roomies4life last... for we needed them to last for a lifetime.
They don't warn you how hard life after college will be. When you reach the point on the brink of adulthood when you set out to conquer the world... and for the first time in a long time, the four of you head in completely different directions. You are finally able to choose the people you want to surround yourself with and on that first morning when you wake up and the three girls {you would live with for a lifetime if social laws would allow it} are not standing around the island in your kitchen recounting all the hilarious things that happened the night before, you fall to pieces... because that's exactly what you are when you're not all together. A discombobulated mess who habitually forgets her debit card, can't cook to save her life and loathes sleeping alone.   
Your college years are about discovering who you are... and while I am far from being her, these three lovelies constantly encourage me to be the person I was born to be.
They are my voice of reason. my reality check. my source of endless laughter. my shoulder to weep on. my mirror image. my muse.
While they have been there for me in the hardest of times, they have taught me more about myself than any life lesson ever will. Jess, always doing the right thing, reminding me the importance of putting others before yourself, using manners and making my bed. Megan showing me that there is a satisfaction to be found in simplicity; the most joy comes from the smallest things in life. And Carly, unafraid of taking chances, always inspiring me to dream bigger and helping me to understand how liberating independence can be. 
We are more than succeeding in finding ourselves... without losing each other. Jess just celebrated her third year of marriage and will be welcoming her first baby girl at any moment. Megan is engaged to her best friend and cosseting a new puppy named River. Carly is excelling in a career that takes most people a decade to reach the level she is at... if they are talented enough to even reach it all. And as for me, my life is exactly what I imagined it to be... well, except for the marriage, baby, puppy and writing career... but for now, I'm happy living vicariously through their endeavors.

We have shared each other's pain. We have relished in each other's good fortune. We have laughed together, cried together and endured every emotion in between. We have been there, supporting each other through every decision we have ever made that has led us to where we are at in our lives and I'm so proud of how far we've come, who we've grown to be and feel so blessed to call them my other halves. 
The adventures of this past decade have been nothing shy of amazing but our futures look fabulously fantastic and I absolutely cannot wait to see what will be written in the next chapter. and the chapter after that.  
...and for the day when history repeats itself and our four baby girls go off to college together, we will get to relive it all again through them. one dance party that leaves scars at a time. 
It will be a circle full of best friends forever come full circle.    

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