1. Connection is rare for me. I have lived the majority of my life feeling like I don’t belong. Feeling most “myself” alone. Feeling like most people either didn’t fully get me, accept me, or really even find any interest in me. So when I met you, and I felt the opposite of all those things, and thought you might even like me, that’s something I have decided I like having around and even more, it is okay to like that feeling. I am still okay alone. I still do not need anyone else to feel like myself. I am still okay if people don’t get me. But I like you around. I like you with me. I like you here. I like you right here. I’m glad you’re alive and right here.
2. When I first picked you up from the airport and we immediately began talking like we’d known each other forever and didn’t feel the need to do the awkward “How was your flight? Are you excited to see Seattle?” song and dance of meeting in person for the first time, it was like coming home. Even though…I was already home. This is a bad metaphor. You’re a better writer than me, but I don’t feel an ounce of competition about it. Because you’re home. And why would I ever want to be jealous of home when I could just be in it.
3. Because when I told you what was going on you told me it’s completely okay to go after the things you want. You reminded me I am allowed to want things. You reminded me it is okay to want to be happy.
4. I am glad you’re alive because my dog may be hopelessly in love with you and the sight of her tail going mad in the morning when you do something as simple as say hello to her makes me completely melt and this run on sentence may be stupid because wow, who really gives that much of a fuck about how their dog feels but okay it’s me. I care that much. It is pure and sweet and happy and we all deserve some happy in our lives.
5. I am glad you are alive because you are the first thing I think of when I hear the word “mentor.” You are my goals. You are better than me in most ways and the person I compare myself to when I think about what I would like to be in life. You’re forgiving, patient, somehow still honest and right. You cook chicken for groups and always listen to me when I’m deliriously upset and say things like, “Sometimes my 51% is walking to the wine store.” You are someone I cannot wait to grow old with. And someone I know I will get to and how lucky am I?
6. I am glad you are alive because there was a while when I thought you would not be alive at this point. I was fully prepared to have to answer awkwardly when people asked me if I’d heard what happened to you. But I haven’t had to. You’re still here. And you’re managing and figuring things out and trying. And that’s something like a light at the end of the tunnel.
7. Because of the bad days you bring me dinner and if I can’t get it all down you split the red wine with me so I don’t drink the whole bottle on a half-empty stomach. And you hold my hand when you see me picking while I’m watching TV. And in the mornings when either of us says “Five more minutes,” we always stay for five more minutes. And for some reason, things feel calmer when you’re around. And for some reason, I always want you around.
8. I have a complicated relationship with family. I have a complicated relationship with female figures in my life. I have a complicated relationship with always feeling misunderstood or like I need to be “less than” to be accepted. You have always felt like a maternal, big sister to me. You have always felt like someone I could go to who would be free from judgment and just have my back. I don’t know if you know how much that means to me. But if you didn’t, it’s a lot.
9. I read somewhere that once a friendship has exceeded seven years it means it’ll be a lifelong friendship. So I’m not sure what 17 years means but I guess we should probably have side-by-side graves. There’s no one I would rather spend eternity with than you.
10. You talk in your sleep. Which if anyone else did I would find it annoying and frustrating because I’m the lightest of light sleepers. But with you, it’s cute. It’s like seeing behind the veil of hardass you work so hard to maintain. I’m putting it on the list of reasons I like you so I never forget.
11. I think I owe you more than I can fully articulate. You took a chance on me and presented me with a world of opportunity I didn’t really know existed. Sure, I made a lot of it happen myself. But you opened the door. I think I’m more grateful than I can fully articulate, and more grateful than you could probably know.
12. Because when I was drowning at 21 you were there and are still here and unconditionally love me and even though I will never be able to tell you in a way that you understand it means more to me than anything.
13. Because you’re you. And I don’t know anyone who has made me feel like I could be, or would want to be soft. And it’s still, and probably always will be a foreign feeling. Something that I hesitate at. But you’re you. And if you can see the parts of me that aren’t flawless or polished or perfectly executed, the “soft animal” as Mary Oliver put it, and still see something worthy? Something better than okay? Something to like? Well, that’s something I would like to keep around. Something I would like right here.