An Ode to the Girls Who Watched Me Grow Up

The older the get, the luckier I realize that I am. I am lucky to have met my best friends at such a young age, to have picked the right girls from the handful of awkward elementary and middle schoolers. I am lucky to have girls that have been by my side through the years, who still take weekend trips with me and understand my weird quirks and laugh about how weird we were.

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This is for Mary, who I met in the fourth grade, who bonded with me over sleepovers, ChatNows, and lost walnuts on the playground. For Mary, who never left my side, who laughed with me at the strange shape of Avocados and the boys who we had crushes on, who never feared to point out the obvious and awkward (i.e.: “Erin, you have a pimple on your face.” *poke*), who’s face is sprinkled throughout old pictures of awkward selfies and Listerine commercials. The peanut butter to my jelly.

And of course, there’s Abbie, the far-away friend who I met in the fifth grade. The boy-crazy, hamster-loving, Japanese-obsessed ten year old with the blonde hair and the cute hat. Abbie, who although she was always far away, first home-school and then Arizona, will always be in our hearts because we know that we are in hers. The girl who I watched grow up into one of the strongest people I know, suffering through the heartbreak with her head held high. The girl with the coolest basement and the weirdest taste in music, with the best sleepover parties and the best of laughs.

This is for Kaitlin, who I became friends with at the age of eleven, the day that Abbie invited us both over, the girl I had heard stories about but had never spoken to. Kaitlin, who bonded with me over a strange story about a witch and a knight and odd Japanese Hamtaro music, who danced with me to weird songs, who poked fun at all of my crushes, who stayed up late writing and color-coding scripts with me. Kaitlin, who let me put my head on her lap the night that I cried and I didn’t know why, who was always there with her goofy smile and awkward dancing, the Harry to my Hermione.

This is for Natalie, brought together through Kaitlin the infamous day of the “period rock,” a friendship full of sleepovers and weird pictures and bickering over things that don’t really matter, like the chocolate that dropped on the floor that she wouldn’t pick up, or the correct pronunciation of the word “bag.” For Natalie, who was always there for me, who I aspire to always be there for as well. From playground adventures to coffee dates (where we both order tea, of course), Natalie will always be there to laugh at our pasts and hope for our futures.

This is for Manasa, who I met in the seventh grade, brought together in an awkward homeroom full of cool kids and weird kids. For Manasa, who braved the waters to talk to me – I was the quiet girl in the corner of the classroom who would read and ignore everyone during every homeroom session. That is, until we became friends, a friendship beginning with imaginative soap operas that soon led to stories and novels about dreams and reality and friendship and loss. The one who always knew what to say and how to help, even if she didn’t think she knew what she was doing.

This is for Grace, who bonded with me at the age of thirteen over our fondness of British words and our mutual stubbornness. For Grace, who I watched grow up, who always cared and looked out for each of us. The late night skype sessions wearing Harry Potter merchandise, the debates over fictional characters, the midnight premieres, and the meddling with our friends. The screaming Taylor Swift songs in the car over boys who were oblivious to our feelings, having her by my side as I fell in love for the first time. For Grace, the one who I know always believed in each of us, even when we didn’t believe in ourselves.

 

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When I watch old videos and look at old pictures, it’s as if we are all characters in an old show, each of us portraying a different character-type. I cringe at the videos of us in the ninth grade, but laugh all the same. Abbie, always the dramatic one who thought our shenanigans were strange but played into them all the same, the one who always had a new and exciting story to tell. Grace, the one behind the camera, the quiet one with the eye for beauty and the heart to hold us all. Manasa, the adventurous and reckless type, yet behind it all there lies a mom-like nature, always looking out for us like we were her babies. Natalie, the goof-ball, the one who doesn’t give herself enough credit for her bravery and huge heart. Kaitlin, the spaz, the star of our parodies and videos, always dancing and screaming and confusing us all. Mary, the one who was always in every shot (somehow), dancing and laughing and making fun of us, the one who was always poking us and annoying us but we loved it all the same. And of course, me, the high-pitched nagging, bossy voice directing everyone around, striving for perfection but never seeing that it was always in front of my eyes, in each of them.

The older I get and the more wonderful friends that come into my life, the more I realize that I will never meet another group of girls like these. I am lucky to have met these girls as a kid, and to have grown up so well alongside them. Few people have this kind of connection with a group of girls, and we are as lucky as they come. I swear, our group would make a damn good sitcom…but not one of those boring ones, one with dragons and magic and also normal things, like falling in love and laughing until we cry and stressing over homework.

This is for the girls who watched me grow up, long live our friendship, until the very end.