I was panicking about my state board nursing assistant exam the next day. I was hyperventilating and talking so fast that it was all but gibberish. "Ally," she said. I didn't hear her. "Ally!" Finally losing her patience, she slapped me so hard I saw stars. I blinked a few times until her face came back into focus. "You'll do fine."

"But—"

"Shut up. You'll do fine."

I don't think I need to tell you that I passed easily.

I met her about eight years ago, when we were paired together for a class project in sixth grade. I was new in that school, and terrified into shyness. Hoping to find common ground, she asked me if I liked dogs. And so it began.

We drifted apart when I went to a different school for junior high, but ran into each other at youth group in our freshman year of high school. We were both having separate conversations at (not with) different people about the same topic: a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender, about two feet away from each other. At some point we realized what was going on and blabbed at each other instead of our poor trapped victims.

A few months later, we were returning from our youth group's winter retreat. She had just been dumped by a cheating boyfriend only two weeks before. The second the bus stopped, I felt a mighty tug on my arm and found myself being dragged off so forcefully that I nearly face planted. Into the church kitchen we went, where she slammed me against the refrigerator and said "Tavisjustaskedmeoutandidon'tknowwhattosaycauseIdon'twanthimtothinkhe'?" To which I quite intelligently replied "…what?" The conversation went in useless circles for a few minutes before she gave up trying to get advice out of me.

Three and a half years later, she's still dating him. If they don't get married, the world would have to spin the other way on its axis. I'm not kidding; she's all but got the ring on her finger. And we continue to get closer than I ever would have believed possible. In the meantime, I've developed a close relationship with him as well. He's like the big brother I never had.

We are polar opposites of the world. She's athletic and tall, I'm short and feel like I'm going to die after a mile of running. She feels like dying after an hour of shopping. She can clear hurdles or a high jump with grace and an effortless manner, as if she's flying. I have an ongoing feud with gravity and manage to trip on flat surfaces or even if I'm just standing still. I love Diet Coke, and every time I drink it, she tells me that aspritain is going to give me cancer. I want to be a nurse, while she just doesn't have the people skills to do anything remotely like that. She can read any person as if they have their life story written on their forehead, while I'm pretty useless when it comes to understanding people. She has almost all guy friends, I have almost all girl friends. I am a girly-girl, she is a tomboy.

But recently I realized that when you get past all the surface differences in our habits, likes, dislikes, and even surface personality traits, we are identical. We evaluate things with a analytical, removed manner, which makes us seem cold and emotionless. We both like things that can be laid out in neat patterns and formulas, and get frustrated by things that we can't break down in that way. We even argue in similar ways. Most importantly, we both have an insatiable desire to be closer to Christ.

We started college this past fall. I was terrified that the two of us were going to drift apart. I was willing to sacrifice anything to keep her in my life. Maybe not a wise decision, but I'd make the same one again. And here we stand at the end of our freshman year, even closer than we were at the beginning. How that happened, I'm not entirely sure, but I'm not complaining.

Earlier this week, the two of us talked. And talked. And talked. And talked some more, for almost two days straight. We both had suddenly discovered a lot of crap in our lives and we needed each other's help to sort through it. We went to the coffee house. Her boyfriend complained that he wanted to see her, so we continued to text across the room, and late into the night after we'd both gone home. We talked all day at work the next day. We came back to my house after work and kept talking. When my mom came home, we climbed a tree in my yard so we could talk in private. We told each other things we'd never told anyone else. We told each other things we never expected to hear from the other. We laughed and cried. We debated and agreed. I had thought that we were as close as it was possible to be, but those two days proved me wrong.

"A true friend cares about you more than they care about their relationship with you." Someone who truly cares about you will go to any lengths to protect you, even from yourself, and even if you hate them for it at the time. I know that I have found that kind of friend, and I thank God every day for putting her in my life.

xXxXxXx

Written on July 8th, 2010.

Happy 19th birthday, Amanda.