To My All-Weather Friend

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People always talk about "fair-weather friends," and I can definitely relate. It's hard to find people who will really be there through it all -- the good times, the not-so-good times, the times where variations of 'good' can't be used, and the really freaking hard times that make you question how you'll ever come out of the dark. People who embrace all of those moments with you and for you are, let's face it, pretty rare. When you find them, these people that I'm calling "all-weather" friends, I'd advise you to hold on for dear life and be their all-weather friend, too. 

I've been on the lookout for some all-weather friends for quite a while, and while my three years of college have brought many into my life (hi zeta + roommates + friends), my freshman year brought me an all-weather, all-seasons type of friend that deserves to be celebrated.

Let me set the scene for you: it was August 12, 2014, the day I moved into my freshman dorm room. My parents had just left me in Athens, and I had never felt more uncomfortable or alone in my life.

At 7pm, I went to meet the group of girls that would become my "gamma chi" group for the week of sorority recruitment. At 8:30pm, as our meet-and-greet was wrapping up, I was seated on the floor with my back against a wall when I overheard a girl talking about her boyfriend back home. We immediately bonded over our mutual long-distance relationships, and she asked me to go to Five Guys for dinner. To this day, saying "yes" remains one of the best decisions I've ever made.

We realized after dinner that we lived on the same floor in the same residence hall, and I remember texting my mom late that night to tell her that I made a new friend, that we had the same initials, and that I felt so much better about going through recruitment with a friend in my group. 

Meredith and I saw each other almost every single day freshman year, adjusting our daily schedule to grab a meal at the dining hall or walk to class together. She got me through some of the most painful homesickness, and when both of our long-distance relationships ended two weeks apart, we got each other through some of the most painful heartbreak. We spent nights quizzing each other for biology tests and religion finals, and we learned the other person's life story so well that no mention of a high-school best friend would ever sound foreign. She faced my anxiety alongside me and reminded me that I could survive. I'd curl her hair for her date nights, and she'd pick my outfits for mine. We talked about everything: Jesus, music, boys, food, our fears and dreams and failures. She crafted text messages I wanted to send to the boy I liked (surprise John, you were always texting both of us), and we spent multiple nights asleep in the same twin bed after dozing off during movies and late-night chats. Even as we grew closer to the friends we were making apart from one another, we never allowed our friendship to fade. 

We were lucky enough to have two classes together sophomore year, and we turned our twice-a-week dining hall breakfast dates into twice-a-week visits to J-Christophers (where the staff still says, "hello you two!" when we walk in, oops). We grew up and faced new challenges and tried the whole "adult" thing (lol), all while carving out intentional time for our friendship. Even though we no longer lived 30 steps from each other (granted she was only a 2 minute drive down the road), nothing felt different. 

Junior year brought its own challenges, including pulling our homes 10 minutes apart, but we found our mutual free-time on campus and made it count. We took on more of adulthood, fell in love with new restaurants (for real, the people at Chicken Salad Chick know our orders), and navigated new relationships. Our hypochondriac tendencies hit an all-time high, so the frequency of text messages reading, "I have a small pain above my left eye, is it cancer?" increased dramatically, but we somehow conquered another year of college together.

It has been three years now, and Meredith has still not let me down. Not once. She has never judged me, she is always honest with me, and she's the first person I call when something goes right or wrong. She's there to answer my weird questions about life, she gives me pep-talks when I'm feeling less-than, and she actively inserts herself into all of my situations so that she can face them with me. She's the kind of friend who subconsciously forces you to be your true self and shows you how beautiful it is when you get there.

You meet a lot of new people during the week of sorority recruitment, and even more so during the first week of classes, but they're not always people who stick around. Those friendships are often based on necessity rather than authenticity. Everyone is feeling lost, so anyone can become your go-to person -- it's human nature to latch onto those around you in a time of need! I think the best thing about my all-weather friend is that she could have easily been a momentary life raft for me, and I for her, but we actively invested in our friendship every day. 

So to you, my all-weather, all-seasons friend: thank you for the investment. Thank you for answering my panicked text messages in the middle of the night, for taking me to dinner when you're not hungry just so I don't have to eat alone, and for always being on my side. You are the most perfect example of generosity, humility, and steadfast friendship that I have ever known. 

Three years later, I sometimes wonder if my long-distance relationship from freshman year was supposed to lead me to you all along. I bet it was.