Stephanie and I were best friends before we even met in person. Two months before we moved into our college dorm, we talked on the phone almost every day and told each other everything.
Steph wanted to experience as much as she could. She wanted to travel, share awkward moments with strangers, write about the things that impacted her, capture life and create the most epic catalog of memories.
As for me, I just wanted to find a husband. Feeling like I had already done everything on her list, my naiveté led me to believe that my next chapter was supposed to involve a minivan, the PTA and a husband who had sex with me in the garage after our kids’ soccer games.
Looking back, it’s funny to see how obvious it was that both of us desired lives that weren’t necessarily true to our natures. For instance, all I wanted was to be a homemaker, yet my nomadic spirit kept me from sleeping in my own bed most nights of the week. And as determined as Steph was to be spontaneous and free, she was quick to nest and root down in our neighborhood.
Gradually and unknowingly, we learned each other’s tricks. Stephanie shared her important tools of dependability and commitment and I exhibited survival skills for living life spontaneously.
For better and for worse, our friendship had no boundaries. We served up reality checks and called out flaws. Yet even with the harshest of fights, our intentions were never to hurt, but to inspire growth within the other. We didn’t just help each other identify the flaws, but examine them. Was it a scar or a wound? A fear? Or was it just a character trait that hadn’t been built yet? She wanted me to embrace the reality of roots, rather than run from it. I wanted her to learn that goodbyes didn’t always mean that you had to lose something, but maybe gain something better or more evolved.
We didn’t just live together, we developed who we were together. We learned our strengths, weaknesses, dislikes and needs vs. wants. She helped me find pride in my independent life and I helped her see how much of nurturer she truly was. Most importantly, we learned that life was not a stark contrast of black and white, but instead the most beautiful array of gray.
16 years later, 1,000 miles apart, we still talk almost every day and tell each other everything. Although I still tease Steph about living in the same neighborhood and frequenting the same businesses, I am in awe of how she has managed to achieve all of the goals from her 18-year-old list and then some. She has not stopped traveling, sharing awkward moments with strangers, writing about the things that impact her, capturing life and creating the most epic catalog of memories now with her husband Ryan and their son, Ro – both of whom I adore more than words can begin to describe, but that’s a whole other blog.
Stephanie, Ryan and Ro thank you for teaching me that new chapters can begin without having to say goodbye. Here are a few snapshots for that epic catalog.
Not pictured: the nightly strolls, Ryan’s professional driving skills, Nicholi’s story about catching on fire, the woman at Faros Beach, yogurt breakfasts and singing “Be My Baby” a capella – over and over again.