7,284 (or so) days...
or... 1,040 weeks
or... 240 months
or... 20 years
or... 2 decades
...to me, that's nearly a lifetime. I'm 27, after all.
In the spring of 1991, my parents moved our family (of four at the time) from a farm that we loved into town. I don't remember if I was nervous or excited, happy or mad. I just know it happened.
Not entirely sure when, exactly, and my parents don't know either. Judging by my memories, and the amount of school I recall having left in the Christian school I went to that year, I think it would have been in April.
Ah well. Doesn't particularly matter.
What I do know is that in the spring of 1991, we moved.
I like to think this move changed my life.
Okay, I know it did.
Not long after we moved (a day, maybe), I met the girl who lived next door. She was bringing over her mom's buns. They were homemade. It was a really sweet gesture. This bright-blue-eyed, brown haired little girl, turns out, was my age. She was 3 days less than 2 months older than I, actually. Her name was Michelle.
She was my new best friend.
And, we've been best friend ever since. (Okay, there were a few months in-between the time I moved away (a whole 5 blocks!) and then she went to a different elementary school, and then moved 7 blocks or so the opposite direction where we might not have been best friends, but in the grand scheme of things, they don't amount to much, so I overlook their existence, generally. Though... they did bring us closer together, in the end, I think.)
We've been friends longer than 3 of my 4 siblings have been alive. We've been friends longer than a handful of her siblings have been alive!
While I was growing up, I was very insecure about myself. I felt awkward and out of place a lot of the time, except when I was hanging out with my closest friends. Michelle, especially, always made me feel like I was a great person, that I was fun to be around, and that I was worthy of having a true friend.
I struggled with the feeling like my family was "looked down upon" by some members of the community, for not being the wealthiest, and therefore, not the most popular.
Individually, I felt like a nerd. I was horrible at almost all sports, but I am very creative and intellectual.
Michelle made me feel like I fit. Her family seemed to take me in as their own, too, seeing the amount of time we spent together, and it was so refreshing to me to not feel judged. I always felt comfortable and accepted.
It's amazing what having a best friend like Michelle can do for a person. I struggled with bouts of depressive thoughts, but knowing that if I really needed a place to go or someone to talk to... Michelle was there.
I have so many fond memories of our 20 years of friendship. We used to make up line dances in our driveways, when we still lived next door to one another. We'd play in her family's play-house in the backyard. We'd play night games with our siblings and friends in the neighborhood. She and I formed many clubs, while hanging out in our garages, on our decks, or in the yards. We would take turns being president, and eventually just co-chairs. We were so "geeky" at times that we would discuss issues like evolving friendships, by drawing them out in diagrams. We loved listening to Reba McEntire on cassette tape. Every time I hear "Fancy," or "Does He Love You?" I remember us singing our hearts out together.
In high school, we basically shared each others lockers. Over the course of the four years, we acquired mounds of post-it-notes, which we would write to one another and leave inside our locker doors. I still have some of them, packed away with notes, letters, and other things from Michelle. She would draw comics of the two of us, doing various (sometimes quite absurd and mischievous things like driving up main-street backwards) with two of our other close friends. We had countless inside jokes (PERPESER) and nicknames for ourselves (Edna & Almirah, for example), and code names for other things in our lives (like Oscar, the one-armed, one-legged skeleton from health class (who also starred in many a comic strip)).
We took various mini-trips together. We went to Glencoe (which for some reason (I cannot remember) was a big deal to us) in her VW Bug. We went road-tripping in our rural area and made a video of silos and other things. We took black and white photos in the area on one of her birthdays. We rode our bicycles from Lamberton to Jeffers one morning, following a conversation we'd had earlier in the spring in which we joked about doing it.
We were involved in over half of our high school activities together, so we spent before school, during school, and after school together, and many portions of a lot of weekends. We were in Lifesmarts, Speech, Yearbook, and FCCLA together, to name a few.
We went to separate colleges, but still wrote each other as often as we would get around to it. Despite the fact that we went for different majors and even switched majors, we both developed a passion and sense for similar things, welfare of the people, for example. We both became even more educated in things we really cared about and acquired intense passions. I look at us now and see many similarities that I wouldn't have seen us necessarily developing as we grew up together, but I find it amazing that they exist.
We now live 3+ hours apart, and we don't talk as often as we used to, but that strong, intense friendship still remains. She is still my very best of friends. I like to believe that there's nothing in this life, apart from death, that can change that.
We were the "honors" in each other's weddings, mine in 2006 and hers in 2010. I will remember each day for the rest of my life. It was such an honor to be there together, still best friends, after all these years and miles now between us. I cried tears of joy as I watched her marry the only man I have ever been really able to see her spending the rest of her life with.
I wrote her a letter once, explaining to her all the ways I was grateful for her, and how she helped me so much to be the strong, passionate, and loving woman that I have become. I thanked her many times for never judging me in the way I thought others would judge me, for accepting me, and loving me all of these years. She has really been a key character in many facets of my life story. I think I sent it to her... but I truthfully cannot remember. (If you read this, Michelle, I am sorry if I did not, as I really did mean to.)
I miss my best friend, Miss Best Friend, MBF, very much, constantly, really. I am lucky, I know, to have so many years of being so close together in distance, and still be so close together in heart despite the distance now between us. I know that there are many out there who are not nearly as fortunate to have the same best friend for 20 of 27 years. I would say that makes us both pretty special.
This weekend, Jake, Spencer, and I are going to be spending time with Michelle and her husband David. I have a gift for her, a surprise, in honor of our Platinum anniversary. Now, it's not platinum (though that would have been awesome), but it's something I find very beautiful and symbolic of such a key person in my life.
I hope that I have a daughter some day. If I do, her middle name is going to be Michelle.
Michelle, MBF, I love you. Happy 20th Anniversary!