My best friend lives in Texas. That’s a four to five hour flight. It’s a twenty hour drive if you don’t take into account stopping for food, the bathroom, or to rest. It’s really easy to bear if I don’t actually think about it. I get up and go to work. I do have friends that aren’t Keri. I even have friends who live within an hour drive of me.
But, honestly, it’s hard. No one prepares you for this when you go to college. Everyone talks about how you’re going to make these amazing friends and have all of these adventures with them that you’re going to remember forever. It’s one of the few things about college that I don’t feel lied to about.
I mean, I had friends in high school that I loved. They were great and I really didn’t want to leave them after graduation. Making friends in college is different though. In high school, you gravitate towards people who are similar to you, but also, it’s weird because you’re trying to figure out who the hell you are to begin with. In college, you have a better idea not only of who you are and what you like but also what you want out of life. Even better, you don’t have to bullshit anything. You don’t have to hang out with people you don’t like. You have this amazing and intoxicating independence from the bullshit you call high school.
Keri is kindred to me. I’m almost glad that I didn’t know how painful it would be to not live in the same city as her because I would have done something stupid and never left my room. I wouldn’t have made friends at all. I would have kept to my books and my imagination because the pain is nearly tangible. I feel her absence like a weight. Even though I get used to it, it’s always present. I miss her on a visceral level. But also, I’ve never been more thankful about something in my life.
Keri is one of the first people I met at college. I was thinking about this and had to laugh because I actually met and talked with Marty first. Keri and her crew of people that had come with her to help her move in were sitting in the CA. My dad and sister had left because mom had been admitted into the hospital for pneumonia the night before. None of us had gotten much sleep, and in times of impending crisis, priorities had to be made. I simply knew that I didn’t actually need help unpacking my stuff. At least, I thought I did.
It took me roughly fifteen minutes of unpacking to lock myself out of my suite. I still remember clearly Marty stating, “You locked yourself out didn’t you?” I was invited to sit with them. And we were immediately best friends. Just kidding, like anything substantial, it progressed.
Keri and I didn’t talk much that first year until the end when she talked me into running for the senator position of the dorm she’d be the RA of the next year. Sophomore year, we became closer. I was obviously the best student leader in the dorm along with Keri. The other ones definitely lacked personality and presence. I remember talking with her, trying to be helpful in dorm stuff and sharing in the absolute knowledge that Denny Dicks was hot regardless of orientation.
Keri’s intimidating as hell though. I struggle so much even to pass as normal. I constantly feel like I’m balancing all of my boxes and walking very carefully through my day to keep people from realizing what a mess I am. Keri on the other hand is self-possessed. She smart and talented and organized. She’s beautiful with killer hair and manicured brows. If she wasn’t my dearest friend, I’d have to hate her on principle because she’s the type of astounding person you look at and know that you could never be.
But she saw something in me. We went to London together after our sophomore year of college and then spent the summer working on campus and working out. We’d spend an hour walking around Gallup Park. We joke that for the first four months of our friendship that we talk about sex. We talked about it until we literally had nothing more to say about it. Finally, we had to look at each other and asked, “So… do you have, like, parents?” We both do as it turned out.
And while we joke about the start of our friendship, it’s just been so amazing. We can talk about ridiculous things and funny things. But we can also talk about real things—politics, religion, educational theories and practices. We can talk about our hopes and dreams. We can be honest about our worries and our shortcomings without the slightest hesitation. I hope she feels the same way about me, but she is so incredibly supportive of me. I’m astounded by it and sometimes wonder what I could have possibly done to deserve it. She lets me know that I’m smart and capable. She reinforces for me that I can do anything that I set my mind to and that I deserve happiness and to follow my dreams. When I’m unsure about the decisions I’ve made, she listens to me and gives me honest advice. She doesn’t just tell me I’m awesome and let that be it. She’s real with me, even if it means disagreeing with me, and doesn’t lie to me. She can do this because we have trust in each other that it’s for our benefit, nothing else. I’m a better person because I know her.
Somedays I wish we lived in the same city so much that I can almost taste it. I want to have coffee with her after school. I want to be able to go to Sidetracks with her every second Saturday for Nutty Conductors. When movies like Trainwreck come out, I want her to be the person I see them with. It’s outstandingly painful to be apart, but also, I’m blessed. The ache serves another purpose than just reminding me I’m not near my best friend. It lets me know that someone out there cares about me. I know my family love me, but there’s something to be said about having a best friend, knowing there’s someone you met by chance and isn’t blood related to you that gets you. You aren’t alone because when you call that person up, no matter how far away on the planet they live, they understand you. They fight for you. They are your person.
Keri is my person and I thank God all of the time
for her presence in my life.
Happy (early) Birthday, Keri!