She taught me how to believe. In dreams, in people, in storybook ideals.
It all started with a tennis ball, one summer day by the pool. Wet clothes, watermelon, walls taken down. There was instant recognition as if we have known each other before, a long, long time ago. And the digging started that day, layer after layer, lasting until the present. Colors, foods, hobbies, pastimes, aspirations, worries, sorrows, fears, insecurities. She knew my deepest secrets as well as my proudest achievements. We fought over silly things mostly stemming from my selfishness, often making up an hour later. We cried together, late at night underneath the safety of our covers, sometimes out of mutual sadness, often out of joy that fate brought two physically distant people to a meeting point. We created music, art, stories, imaginary worlds and fantastical adventures. Mostly, we laughed.
With any serious friendship, you give a part of yourself. Some may take a cursory look and move on. She looked, stared, examined every flaw before deciding she still liked what she saw. There is tremendous comfort in realizing that someone in this world knows you well, perhaps not completely, but well enough that you continue to communicate, reveal, share with others. She taught me it was okay to take a risk with people and friends forever, it is not just another cliche made false by the harshness of growing up. For that, and reasons too many to name, I'm eternally grateful.