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February 2, 2016

Letter to A

Today my best friend in the entire world, known affectionately as A, Ammie, Amrita, and, most of all, Hoe, turned 18. This is my tribute to her. (And also inclusion of pictures she wouldn't let me post on Facebook).

A and I met in 6th grade....eons ago it seems now. I could explain our story to you with new words but several years ago I took a summer class in poetry writing and one of my poems, entitled The History Bench, was about Amrita and myself. I later had to write about the poem for the class so instead of explaining our friendship here and now, I'll use the words I used 4-5 summers ago. (Not the poem, I'll spare you my middle school angst)

I walked into World History class a little out of breath because I had gotten lost and had to ask for directions twice to find my way. The teacher had a seating chart all drawn up on the whiteboard and I stumbled my way to the back table. Two people sat there. One, who's name was Parker who was a nice acquaintance, and the other who's name was Amrita, a completely new face to me. Her hair tumbled around her face and I envied how her hair stayed straight and perfect, a few waves here and there to add volume. I hated my hair, it was always tied back in a tight ponytail to keep it out of my face, making me look like someone was pulling both my ears in opposite directions. We started chatting and realized we had 3 more classes together. A joke here, a conversation there and in 90 minutes we were best friends.(Much later after our meeting, she revealed that she thought I was "sophisticated" in that History class. "But now I know better," was her next line. Ah, best friends.) 
That's our meet-cute, Ms Banks' world history class in 6th grade. I had just moved to town in the middle of 5th grade and had a really difficult time fitting in so finding Amrita was a true gift from the universe. Fun fact: we actually attended the same concert several years before we met, before I had even moved to the town!, but didn't meet until that class! #Fate or what?
Our first trip to the OBX

It's strange but I feel like our friendship was okay when I still lived in the States but was taken to a whole new level when I left. Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of fun attending the same middle school! We were in the same math class, sitting next to each other, for 2 years and learned absolutely nothing because...well we were sitting next to each other! There were countless sleepovers and pizzas and trips to Giant (still our favorite hangout tbh), we spent Halloweens together and we considered these our greatest adventures. Then the Halloween of 8th grade came around and Mom told me our hypothetical move to Manila was actually happening.

Now....Amrita and I were friends at this point, probably considered ourselves bffs, but we were in eighth grade. There is a very very slight chance that 8th grade friends stay in touch if they only go to separate schools within the same town! I was moving across the entire world. The odds of our friendship surviving were very slim.
We have these matching sweaters: hers is blue, mine is pink, and our friend Dani's (who was with us this trip) is purple

To be honest, I can't recall ever making a pact or a promise with her that we would stay friends forever or anything....certainly no blood oaths were sworn like the melodramatic YA movies always seem to portray. A even admits she figured we'd lose touch and that would be that after I moved. We didn't ever try to force ourselves into staying friends through the distance...I think that's a big part of what has kept us together.

Of course this isn't to say a long-distance friendship like ours is easy (in fact I wrote about it here); there are definitely times we're frustrated at the lack of coordination in our schedules or #timedifferenceproblems or we get so busy with school we go a few days without talking. We just always pick it back up. And at this point, speaking for myself anyway, I couldn't stop being friends with A even if I wanted to! She knows literally everything about me and has evidence to back it up, we're stuck for life.
New York, two summers ago

We always say we were destined to find each other, the universe willed that we would be best friends, and it honestly seems that way. We get along so well together, we always claim to be the same person because our minds and values are so alike, and yet we have the perfect amount of difference that keeps it interesting. Plus she makes me laugh more than anyone else on the planet.
Our concert in New York, 2 years ago

I talk about A so much that my friends here know her by name. They're probably tired of me laughing at her texts in the middle of class, seeming to laugh at nothing, and shoving her funny texts in their faces. She knows all their stories and I tell her literally everything still. She tells me what goes on in her life and it's like we're two best friends that just happen to go to different schools. She's family now. Always invited to Family Beach Week, my aunts and uncles and cousins always ask about her, my parents always leave their door open for her. I imagine this is what having a sister is like....she's my absolute best friend. I can't even fathom what life would be like without her. My life has been shaped by so many people, especially her.
My two favorite pictures of her, I swear
Today my favorite person turned 18. Again, I'm not going to wax sentimental with new words when old ones will do. So I'll include some sentiments from the same paper I quoted earlier, about my History Bench poem.
The reason the future is mentioned so much in this poem is that Amrita and I always talk about our dreams, our ambitions. And we both have a lot in common, in a lot of ways. More than once we have promised each other that we will be there for everything in the coming years from college to dating to marriage to families. We really are sisters, brought together by 6th grade History class. Since that class, a lot has changed. I moved across the world, for one. But I refused to let this friendship slip through my fingers and fade into the past. I wouldn't have gotten through everything I've gone through without Amrita's support, even if we can only talk keyboard-to-keyboard. That's really what this poem is about, holding fast to your friends and never letting them go, no matter what happens.
In a lot of ways, Amrita is a role model for me, as well as a great friend. I admire her courage, her spirit, and her moxie. She's also funny and one great person to stalk crushes with. This poem is for her, and also for every pair of best friends out there who's photo will one day be vintage.
Happy Birthday hoe! 18 will be a great year, I can feel it.

xx
(Her favorite photo of us)

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