Emily is on the left in every photo except the first one.
From the time I moved to Maryland in the seventh grade til I left the state for college, Emily and I were inseparable. We developed the same mannerisms and looked enough alike (similar height and build, matching mushroom bob haircuts) that teachers and classmates didn't so much confuse us as they considered us one in the same. We kept mostly to ourselves; at lunch in high school we ate in the corner of a musty stairwell. Our little world consisted of making music videos in her basement, prank calling boys, eating Stove Top stuffing (um, ew?), and developing countless inside jokes, which we rehashed each day in passed notes and after-school phone calls.
We vowed to be in each other's weddings. We said (earnestly) that when we each got married we would live in a big house together with our husbands. We lost touch, but in the years of radio silence I always wondered what path Emily had taken. One day I googled her name to discover that much like myself she was a public school teacher. I was scared to reach out to her. Too much time had elapsed. I was worried we had both changed too much to pick up where we left off.
When we did finally reconnect (thanks to Myspace), we were fast friends again despite the changes that had transpired. I'm not talking about life events like significant others, moves, new homes, and jobs; I mean the divergence of our once-similar personalities. As an adult, I had developed into the more serious, introverted one, while Emily thrives in the company of others and shines in the spotlight. I am snarkier, reserved, and more pessimistic; she is kindhearted, funny, and positive. Emily embodies the traits I wish came naturally to me; I aspire to think and act more like her. Alas, it's sometimes like trying to write left-handed. (Interestingly, one quality both of us developed - independent of each other - was an extreme anxiousness.) I look up to Emily in other ways too (more than she realizes). She became a vegetarian first; I eventually followed suit. Sometime during "the lost years" she started running; when I took up the sport four years ago, she was my secret inspiration.
Although we don't live together in a big house with our husbands, I'm thankful Emily is only a cheap, relatively short bus ride away. To have a friend who has known you since childhood, who "gets" you and loves you despite your faults, is not something everyone is lucky enough to have. (Is this what having a sister is like? I'd imagine so, though we never fought over clothes.)
P.S. I don't usually talk about my blog with family or longstanding friends who predate it, so I can't be sure if they read it or not. It's kind of an elephant in the room. I have no idea if Emily will ever see these words. I'm writing them with the assumption she won't. But, in an effort to be like her - less reserved, more affectionate - I will tell her these things when I see her this weekend.