I have no other friendship like my friendship with Amy.
She was the name printed next to my dorm room assignment in the letter I got a month before I started college; the stranger with whom I decorated our cinderblock walls and attended all the freshman orientation meetings.
Our floor was filled with cute, stylish, confident girls. She fit in easily, far more than me.
But in the first month when plans were made in whispers so the wrong people didn't get invited, her jaw set even harder than mine.
She made no secret that social strata would play no part in how she chose her friends, and she never looked back.
I vividly remember watching that, and the realization that whether we turned out to be close friends or not, this was someone I could respect and trust.
We are different in countless ways, and we openly acknowledge that we would probably never have been friends had not fate/God/Wheaton ResLife thrown us together.
She didn't get up early to read her Bible every morning, or spend hours journaling her prayers to God. I wasn't sure what to do with that.
She was quick and thankful to serve others at every opportunity. She never dreamed of skipping church, no matter how much homework she had.
I learned from the ways she worshipped Him.
Just as much, I learned that close and honoring relationships with God can be lived out in all sorts of ways.
She was the only person on campus I told my parents' divorce was being finalized that semester.
I was the only one who knew about her dad's cancer prognosis.
I missed her over Christmas break, and when I stayed at home an extra week to be in a wedding she realized how much she missed me too.
The first morning I was back in the dorm, we woke up at the same time, stretching and rubbing our eyes across the room from each other.
We made sleepy eye contact, and wordlessly I rolled over to the side of my bed.
She climbed down from hers and in next to me. Still without exchanging a word, we promptly fell back asleep.
When she had her first Wheaton heartbreak, she tossed her hair and (infamously) slapped the boy across the face. Then came home to me and cried for a week while I rubbed her back.
Later when I sobbed to her that I wasn't smart enough to be at Wheaton she calmly told me it wasn't true, and explained Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences.
The rest of college we had different rooms, different floors, different friends. We still had our different personalities, different ways of pursuing faith, different study skills. We still needed each other, maybe even more. I would call her from across campus to ask for advice on what to wear on a given morning (match your earrings to your scarf and wear a sweater in a complementary color; add tall boots if you need to feel empowered), and she would ask me if I was proud of her that she'd skipped homework the day before to be "socially productive" (of course I was).
Our senior year she bought Skype credit and figured out how to call my Bolivian cell phone, surprising me and making me cry in joy from 4,000 miles away. When I got back to campus that winter, she was off for a semester in Fiji, but she had knit me a beautiful green scarf and left it wrapped with a friend to greet me when I got there.
One spring day I watched with joy as that slapped boy from freshman year waited at the top of the aisle; Amy, beaming, walked towards him... looking lovely in her bridesmaid dress, as our beautiful freshman suitemate followed her and took his hand (Don't you love how these things work out?!).
The year after we graduated she and her new boyfriend drove several hours out of their way over Thanksgiving weekend to meet me at my aunt's house, spending the day with me and my family so we could see each other for the first time in months and I could meet him ("before the wedding!!", she whispered).
The next fall I wore the bridesmaid dress, beaming, as she and James held a contest for who could cry more during a wedding ceremony.
Seven months later I flew to her when James had a business trip. We spent a weekend eating out, scoring deals at thrift stores, and watching Friends reruns,
so that she wouldn't have to sleep alone two weeks after her dad's funeral.
My most eye-rollingly-NOT-sappy friend sends me cards and magnets with the cheesiest of phrases on them, usually surrounded by sugary pink flowers, always the gift most likely to make me crack up (and usually with a ps adding something about how maybe a much less sentimental version, could be true).
This year's Christmas present: a 'prayer box' with a little notepad 'to write down your blessings!!',
inscribed on top: "When I count my blessings, I count you twice."
She actually wants to hear all about my dissertation. She thinks my small town life and all its mundane beauty sounds just as wonderful as I think it is.
There's a freaking baby growing in my friend's belly.
Days together and I'm not even sure what we talk about, just that it's a lot of everything and nothing and it's always just right.
I'm never self-conscious, whether I'm listening or wondering or laughing or grumbling.
She and James don't miss a chance to hold hands and appreciation for each other is woven throughout their conversations so naturally I doubt they even realize it.
We retell the stories we've told a million times, laughing in recognition within a moment of each one beginning.
The colorful, painted wooden Bienvenida sign that hung in our freshman dorm room eight years ago hangs in their kitchen.
She tells the baby to kick for Aunt Emily, and he does.
Some blessings, I will never be able to find words for the gratitude.