Once upon a time, I was a little baby freshman in college. Having read all of the Cosmogirl and Seventeen articles about making friends, becoming hugely popular, and having the best time of your life in college, I knew the path to success -- get involved. So I did. I looked into about three million campus events, it seemed like, signed up for organizations that I never actually attended [but still receive the club emails] and organized a semi-not-so-successful dorm cookie night every week. My favorite part, though, was YoungLife. Besides the fact that I was a freshman and new so a.) all of the boys were older and b.) all of the boys were cute, [I was obviously in heaven] they did this weekend retreat in September or October -- and I love those. It's the perfect venue for how loud and obnoxious I am, because I REALIZE that I'm annoying at first, but when you spend a WEEKEND with me, you get to see pieces of the less ridiculous part of me, or at least enough to hint that that side might exist, so it piques people's interests and suddenly VOILA! I have friends... or at least I think I do.
Anyway, we were playing those weird bonding games, like variations on freeze tag and blindfolded kickball and ultimate frisbee, and suddenly we were handed towels and instructed to playbeach volleyball... it's basically newcomb with towels and you catch the ball and then try to catapult it back over the net with varying degrees of success. I looked around, searching for one of the seven older boys I had been talking to through the course of the night, when a girl walked up to me. She had crazy, curly hair, tinted orange in what I would later learn was not her natural color, but a freak dye job. Her wrists were covered in braided bracelets and concert wristbands and she had chipped nailpolish on her fingers. "Hey," she said abruptly. "Want to be my partner?" It wasn't really a question, but I was okay with that.
I don't remember much more of Allison specifically from that weekend (I was too busy flirting with boys and making sure that everybody heard me at all times), but that moment sparked a friendship unlike any other in my life. Allison and I started as very superficial friends -- the kind whose Facebook wall to wall looks like this:
Carly: Ah, you disappeared tonight!! I hope you had fun...have a fabulous Wednesday!
Allison: I know! I was so distracted! I meant to go back inside, but I forgot. :)
Carly: Hmph. Miss you. Being home is fabulous/sucky, because I feel like I'm missing out on EVERYTHING!!
Allison: So you are pretty much my love :)
Carly: No no no no...YOU are MY love. Dinner was fun -- we'll have to do it again ASAP. See you today, I'm sure. ♥
I mean, we meant what we said, but we had no real understanding of each other -- there was very little depth to our relationship at that point. Not to mention the fact that we were ANNOYING, but that's another issue entirely.
Then we went on Spring Break to Houston. It was an ugly time in both of our lives; we were working through self-created messes and it seemed [from my perspective, at least] that we were the only other person who had at least the tiniest inkling of how the other felt. It's funny, because just as Allison told me that she had sworn off close friendships with girls, I resolved to be that in her life. Literally, this is how the conversation went:
Allison: I never want a "best friend" again.
Carly: *in my head* Fine. But I'm going to disregard that statement and win. Bahaha.
Long story short -- we both won. Allison has a place in my heart that no one else will every occupy, and to say that I'm thankful for our friendship is the understatement of the year. She is unique and beautiful and giving in her own way. She has a heart for Jesus and a passion to help those who hurt. She fights for what she loves and is not afraid to be wrong when she's seeking truth. She speaks in accents and loves [shopping, not working at] Target and seeing movies instead of doing homework. She hardly ever skips class, but always texts me when she does, because she knows how proud I am of her negligence. She lets me read out loud to her and she shares her writing with me. We wear each others' clothes, eat each others' food, sleep in each others' rooms, laugh with each others' sisters, and in such, we have become sisters ourselves.
I have watched Allison grow and change closer and closer into the woman that God wants her to be over the last three years. The girl I met on the volleyball court freshman year is a distant memory, replaced by a confident, maturing woman. It's been an amazing transformation, and it is far from complete.
I love you, Allison. Happy Birthday!