My Third Sister, Stephanie.

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My best friend, Stephanie, and I met freshmen year in Advanced Dance Class. In fact, the moment our friendship became solidified was probably when we were doing a leap pass across the floor, somehow our legs became intertwined mid-air, and we both flopped to the ground.

When I look back on all of my major life events, it has always been Stephanie by my side. We won state championships together, graduated high school together. When we were too young to drive, we would talk Stephanie’s mom into letting us go to the Grizzly Rose with our much older driver friends, and her mom would always be so disappointed when we came home, smelling like an ashtray. Stephanie failed her driver’s test the first time, but we were so excited when she finally got her license and could cart me around in ‘Quinlinn the Purple Lightning’. We would run the streets of Parker, blasting our Disney music, holding dance parties, and counting how many graduation parties we could get to in one weekend. We went to just about every dance together, and her mom, the professional photographer, would always take our pictures, on the same porch, same pole, with different dates each time. Her house got TPed all the time our senior year, and we would both go outside to clean it up. We made our college dance team together, moved into our first apartment together. Our freshmen year of college, we lived off Peachy-O’s from the E-PO and queso. We spent endless nights, sitting on the dorm floors, watching The Bachelor, too sore from workouts to move. When we had to stay over spring break for dance practice, we deconstructed the study room in her dorm and created a fort to sleep in.

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OH, are we competitive with each other. Academically, we ended up in the same advanced classes, and we were always trying to outscore each other on tests (and then we both dropped Calculus in the same semester, because we both knew we couldn’t hang). Extracurricularly, we were always trying to be in more activities than the other, which, in turn, resulted in us being in the same exact activities (and a semi-risky outfit at the academic lettering ceremony?). Athletically, we were always trying to out-run, out-jump, out-squat the other. When we would have to run stadiums or hills on our college dance team, it was always Stephanie and I, running in the very front, and everyone else left in the dust, merely because we were just trying to run faster than the other (but don’t worry Steph, there is NO way I will ever beat you on singing). But, we always welcome the competition, because it’s always friendly, and she is always pushing me to be a better student, athlete, coach, thinker, and person in general.

And at all the times my life was in crisis, I always counted on Stephanie being there to support me. My childhood was rocky, to say the least, and I probably spent more nights over at Stephanie’s house than I did at my own. When I ran away from my house as a senior, because I was feeling too much pressure about applying to college, I found refuge at Stephanie’s. When social services got involved in my family and I was taken out of my house, I found refuge at Stephanie’s. When my room mate in college was weird and never showered, I found refuge at Stephanie’s. And, even to this day, when I am feeling my existential crisis flare up, or a confusing situation with a boy that I want counseling on, I find myself sitting on the same tall stools in Stephanie’s kitchen, confessing my soul to Stephanie and, usually, her mom (so many good conversations and life realizations have happened in that kitchen…).

Our relationship is really, really deep. We don’t like the same music, nor the same kinds of boys, but we do both love over analyzing, reading, dancing, yogaing. We speak our own language, and can shift from being goofy, immature 20-somethings, to having romantic walks down the beach, discussing how many kids we hope to pop out. One thing I love about my best friend is just how well she knows me, and just how well I know her. Nothing she does surprises me. When she starts snapping at people, I don’t even take offense, because I know it just means she is stressed. I know exactly what her reaction to that awkward clinger that humps the table, or when that ex-boyfriend/best friend shows up. When we make tentative plans to hang out after a competition, and she doesn’t answer my phone calls, I don’t get upset, because due to some kind of ESP, I know that her phone probably died en route home and she will call me back when she can plug it back in. When she walks in late to church, I know why. When she is swerving all over the highway on the way to Water World for her birthday, I am never surprised to find #selfies posted the next day on Facebook. Or, when she decides one day to quit her job, and move back home, I know exactly why she did it.

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But, perhaps the thing I love the most about my best friend is just how durable our friendship has proven to be. To say our friendship has been through A LOT would be an understatement. I confess that there were times that I was NOT a good friend to Stephanie, and due to some events (and a really bad boyfriend on my part), we moved out of our apartment our sophomore year of college, we stopped talking. It was not until I ran into her at yoga last December that we rekindled our friendship. After yoga, we decided to go to Starbucks to ‘catch up’, which ended up being a three hour conversation. That was all we needed. At the time, I was not sure why she was put back in my life, but now I completely understand: we needed each other. I went to visit her in Los Angelos, she moved back home, got a job coaching at my rival high school, and the rest is history.

People often ask me why, after everything we have been through, are we still friends, and I simply say, “Because Stephanie knows me better than almost anyone in this world, and I know her better than anyone else (minus her mom, because her mom is pretty rad, too), and we just get each other”. Because, when you know truly know Stephanie like I know her, you know that she is my soul mate, and I am so grateful to have Stephanie’s friendship.

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