I'm running out of sentiments, or maybe you're too good for them. But I'll never run out of stories. We were too weird for the other weirdos, trading stickers, amateur music writing, even more amateur film making, taking long walks to libraries and the corner store to buy copies of Tiger Beat and Bop that we would crudely cannibalize for Hanson posters. We got each other on a deep and immediate level that didn't require asking Zandar for affirmation - we did anyway - and were quickly soaring to new heights on the unicorn of our choice. I feel relatively certain that we moved a time capsule from 1999 when we moved you into your new house just last week.
My favorite teenage memories involve sitting opposite each other on your waterbed, sloshing and wobbling but still managing to balance a pen and a spiral bound notebook. We wrote stories almost exclusively about each other. We were witches. We were fairies. We were vampires and time travelers and space pioneers. The boys we liked certainly found themselves fictionalized, but they were inconstant, unreal, a fantasy. The true heart of what I spent years of my early writing working out was how to follow my imagination in the company of a kindred spirit, both on and off the page.
Here is a thing that I remember: going with you to your high school freshman orientation, insisting on speaking in what I am sure was an insulting British cockney the entire time. I remember the look on the face of a boy who'd read one of your stories, you know the one, when he realized that it was me who was your best friend in the story, your best friend in real life. The glee when we raced away from him in the hallway, how light our steps felt and how certain we were about everything. If I didn't take your hand then I am taking it now, holding tight and forging ahead throughout all of the years of our big and little revelries.
When I think about my girls growing up and what I really want for them, I want them to be the oddball, the ugly duck, the girl with the temper and the hair and the too-pink shoes. Because if you don't stand up and stand out, if you make it too easy for the world to get and forget you, how will you ever find the person who remakes the world with you?
Happy Birthday, Kelsi. I love you, ever and forever.