This Is What 21 Years Of Best-Friendship Looks Like

Today my best friend, Savannah, turns 25. Plus our friendship can legally drink this year! Happy birthday, Best Friend, and happy 21 years of friendship! Thank you for keeping me alive, sane, and in love with the world for as long as I can remember.  You will always be my Peyton. Love, your Brooke.

21 years of best-friendship is faded photos, braces, and matching shirts.

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21 years of best-friendship is before makeup and haircuts.

4661_1286383445207_4622060_n21 year of best-friendship is uncontrollable laughter.

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21 years of best-friendship is drunken costume parties.

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21 years of best-friendship is A LOT of confusion.

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21 years of best-friendship is four Taylor Swift CDs, and one concert with great seats.

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21 years of best-friendship is being wedding dates to your friends’ weddings.

603814_4713439199555_495823191_n21 years of best-friendship is 16 years of summer camp & after-school care.

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21 years of best-friendship is family vacations & windy boat rides.

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21 years of best-friendship is awkward dance parties.

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21 years of best-friendship is sharing a baby sister.

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21 years of best-friendship is celebrating success & art shows.

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21 years of best-friendship is very old, very cryptic Facebook posts.

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21 years of best-friendship is growing up in your childhood bedrooms.

218154_1024459377269_9772_n21 years of best-friendship is REALLY weird faces posted on the internet.

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21 years of best-friendship is surprise college visits & a lot of different haircuts.

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21 years of best-friendship is figuring the whole third-wheel thing out.

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21 years of best-friendship is housewarming parties, old friends & halloween costumes.

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21 years of best-friendship is treating the other like a birthday princess, all the days.

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21 years of best-friendship is standing next to her as she gets married in 190 days!

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A Quarter Of A Century Of Everything

I’ve been 25 for a month, and it’s already been a whirlwind of a year. But then again, so was 24. Here’s looking back at the last year…

24 was big.

24 was hastily, thoughtfully, drunkenly, soberly questioning every aspect of my life. It was finally fitting into the mold I’d spent years creating, just to want a new one. It was deciding what I want. It was deciding I don’t know what I want.

24 was learning how lonely it is being the linchpin when the wheel is suddenly missing. It watching childhood best friends fall in love, move away, and follow dreams. It was seeing old friends in a new light, letting the memories of our childhoods fade into the background. It was accepting not all friendships will survive. And cherishing the ones that do.

24 was walking hand-in-hand under city lights one night, and jumping into someone else’s arms under a Carolina starlit sky the next. It was hugs that needed to happen so badly they left behind a sense of emptiness. It was countless hellos, and a few too many goodbyes. It was polaroid pictures scattered on a table filled with drinks. It was laughing to the point of no control.

24 was sitting cross-legged on the floor of a boat, watching fireworks. It was not knowing if I was 4 or 24, my feet in the sand. It was peeling skin, and the satisfaction of knowing the sunburn was worth the memories. It was watching beloved bars turn into clichés. It was running into old faces and hoping to not be a cliché.

24 was the soundtrack of southern summer days fitting autumn city nights perfectly. It was falling asleep to beautiful sentences, and turning pages until I found myself dreaming of other worlds. 24 was wearing the same strappy, wedge heels through the city until the city finally won. It was buying another pair to get the last word next year. It was housewarming parties that lasted six hours longer than planned. It was dancing recklessly at concerts in a basement, while everyone pretended to see the open sky.

24 was Wednesday night family dinners — people talking over people, too many voices and plates. It was that feeling of love, luck, and gratitude that only happens with family, even makeshift ones.

24 was finding my voice, and taking on new challenges. It was seeing myself as an adult without running away. It was moving 40 boxes to a new part of town. It was claiming 1,000 square feet of NYC for my own without pretending. At 24, I settled under the NYC skyline — no longer feeling an imposter, but no longer feeling the same immense gratitude either. It was finding comfort.

Here’s to everything 25 is going to be.

A bride, a groom, & a lot of memories

The people who met me in middle school or earlier are shocked I live in NYC, work at a women’s publication, and will gladly share my opinion about most anything. The people whom I met after the age of 13 — well, they probably wish I would just shut up at least once a week. A large part of this change is because of one of my dearest friends — Chris Octetree.

As a child I talked to my parents and sister non-stop. I knew that they cared about what I had to say, or at least that they had to pretend to. I didn’t feel like I mattered outside of my small circle: I rarely spoke up, I doubted myself even when I knew the answers, and I wouldn’t share my opinion unless I knew you wouldn’t fight me on it. The truth? I was scared of so much, and really didn’t know how things were going to turn out. Then, during 8th grade, right when everything in life feels like a superlative, I met “my brothers.”

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They were all members or advisors for Finley’s Leaders’ Club, which I joined that year. They listened. They cared. They wanted to know my opinions. They showed me how to be a leader, and how to be a friend. They taught me everything was going to be alright. Hell, over the course of the last 10 years, they’ve probably taught me more than anyone besides my parents. Simply put: they shaped me into the woman I am today.

Chris O was one of those “brothers.” He was an adviser of Leaders’ Club, so in many ways it was his job to listen. But, he also challenged me. He didn’t belittle my questions or my thoughts, and when you are a teenage girl, that means everything. He saw me as the adult I would be, long before I saw it in myself. He became one of my very best friends. And, he was always the first person I went to when I needed to hear someone say, “everything is going to be alright.”

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In some ways he will always be connected to my youth. He will always be the person that wrote to me (even though he hated it) my freshman year because I needed someone to talk to. He will always be the man that spoke the truth when i was dating a complete asshole in college. He will always be one of the first people who told me that my writing was powerful, to encourage my dreams. And, he will always be the person who protected me and defended me during the trials of my teenage years, which at the time seemed like the end of the world. But, luckily as we’ve grown up, our friendship has grown with us.

And, this weekend I got to watch him get married. It was weird at first. I walked into Cafe Luna (their gorgeous wedding venue), and he walked over to hug me. In that minute I was 16, and he was telling me everything was going to be alright. In the next moment, I saw a room filled of the adult faces of my most favorite people, my childhood friends. I saw some of my “brothers” sitting next to their wives, some playing with their children, and some just sitting quietly during a whole ceremony (which would have never happened 10 years ago). Most importantly, I saw one of the men I love most in the world smile, so excited to get married, and so in love with the beautiful woman walking down the aisle toward him. And, at least for the day, I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was going to be alright. I knew it was.

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Photo by Philip Herndon.

Photo by Philip Herndon.

Photo by Philip Herndon.

 

 

Read My Latest: 26 Love Triangles We Will Never Forget

The OC Love Triangle, Summer & SethMaybe I was just a child freak, but as a kid I wanted to be in a love triangle. Not just any love triangle — but one of those dramatic, emotionally-invested, heartbreaking ones that were always designed to make you see the person you truly love. So, yes, one straight from TV. I grew out of that stage. Like every one else I realized that what I wanted was something healthy, drama-free, safe, and, yes, real. 

But, I still get excited when I realize the main character is going to have to chose between two very different lovers.There is a reason that I cried and cried during the last few episodes of The Good Wife’s season five, that the ending of How I Met Your Mother continually infuriates me, and I re-watch seasons 1-6 of One Tree Hill whenever I am sick or hibernating from the world. The love triangle may be a predictable plot device, it may last WAY too long way too often, and it may be unrealistic, but I will never stop loving it. Here are the love triangles I will never forget.

And you can find all of my articles for Refinery29 here.

Read My Latest: Why We Need To Listen To Deborah Peter

492579115On April 14, 2014, over 300 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria by a group of Islamist militants called Boko Haram. Some girls escaped. An estimated 276 girls are still missing. No one knows where they are currently located.

It seems like a hopeless situation. But there are survivors of Boko Haram, one of them is Deborah Peter. We need to listen to her story, because she matters, because these lost girls matter. We do need to #BringBackOurGirls, and it takes more than a hashtag. This story doesn’t add up to much, but it’s something.

And you can find all of my articles for Refinery29 here.

 

Read My Latest: Who Are We Rooting For?

house-of-cardsHello, 2014 — the year of people trying to save the world with hashtag activism, while TV characters don’t think about the world at all. The last few seasons brought the latest iteration of the anti-hero, characters without any motivations beyond themselves. I loved the complicated, flawed characters of shows like The Godfather, 24, Sex And The City, Gossip Girl, The Sopranos, Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights, and early seasons of Breaking Bad.

These characters were messes, but they were motivated by something more. They were protecting their families, fighting for their friends, or trying to get over their insecurities. Yet, recently their have been so many “anti-heroes” that lacked any sort of moral compass at all. And, this made me wonder what and who are we rooting for?

And you can find all of my articles for Refinery29 here.

 

The Things I Must Always Remember

The other day I was riding the subway with a friend. A few seats from us was a very upset little girl. She was maybe six years old, and as she told it her world was falling apart. She was telling her mother about disliking the book her class was reading, the fight she was having with her friend, and how she fell down and scraped her knee during recess.

Within a couple stops, the same young girl was smiling, laughing, and declaring tonight was going to be “the best night ever.” All it took was the decisions to reread a book she likes, eating spaghetti for dinner, and a swipe of her mother’s lipstick. Watching her whole demeanor change, made me think about the little things that have been able to transform my day since I was child. These are things I must always remember.

  • Street Markets and State Fairs: I love events that get all kinds of people to go to the same place for the same reason. It doesn’t matter where someone is from, who made their shoes, why their last relationship ended or what they believe in. What matters is that you are here to enjoy the act of being alive. You want to see the world from the top of the ferris wheel, you want to smell like the street foods you are trying for the first time, you want to hear the clank of the bangles from the local artisan on your arm. You want to eat too much and then spin really fast while turning upside down on a ride; you want your cheeks to burn red with life; you want to exist in a world of music, and children’s screams, and people holding hands for the first time.

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  • The moment you finish a good book: Ever since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to books. I thought the best homes were the ones with overflowing bookshelves that were surrounded with more books, as if the amount of text it was being asked to contain was too much, and one day it very  gracefully exploded in an attempt to breath again. When I read, I can leave reality behind, and only know the fictional world I am consuming. It can seem more real to me than anything else. And every once in a while, I will finish a book that had such a hold on my heart, I will feel like part of me just died. I will never be able to go back and read that book for the first time again. It doesn’t matter if I love or hate the ending, because I will be so thankful for the emotion it made me feel and the reminder that the quickest way to feel alive is to find a book created from a great author who was brave enough to share his or her words with the world.
  • Handwritten Letters: Emails are faster and more convenient. I will admit that in recent months I have spent more time writing out emails than letters because I have allowed myself to fall into the “I am too busy” trap. But, the truth is, that is why I love letters. We are all too busy. So, it truly means something when someone writes you a letter and takes, ignoring the methods that are faster and more convenient. But, opening your mailbox and finding a card or a letter carries a different weight than an email. You know the thought that went into each word since they couldn’t hit “delete” and wipe away some thought. We can all write with the same fonts, but our unique, handwritten scripts, often bring with them a different kind of love.

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  • Autumn leaves: Autumn is the best season. I love how everything feels new again. It is like we all have a Pavlovian effect, where the sight of red, yellow, and orange leaves mean a new beginning, long after our school years. It means we can chase new dreams, fall in love with new faces, and enjoy every moment a little bit more.
  • Perfectly decorated apartments: Have you ever walked into someone’s apartment and you fell in love with every corner of the place? You fell in love with the colors, and the textures, and that moment when you realize this person has somehow captured their very essence and turned it into a tangible thing within four walls. Seeing someone’s apartment, especially someone’s room, always makes me feel closer to them. I can see what they chose to surround themselves with, what they love and need around them. So, when I love someone’s apartment, it makes me think that person is even more beautiful. I connect them with their mixed-print pillows, the flowers on the their living room table, the antique photos on their walls, and the belongings they have selected to represent the lifetimes they have already lived.
  • Chandeliers: Chandeliers charm me. I become hypnotized by the beauty of light reflecting off of crystal. I don’t think there is such a thing as an ironically placed chandelier — they belong everywhere. They belong above the drunk, dancing dreamers in dirty pubs; witnessing the love, pain, and awkward moments that are fixtures at holiday dinners;  lighting the old pages of well-loved books in famous libraries; draped in bras and disco balls in the beauty salon I frequent; and like in my apartment, pink, mini-sized, and plastic, hanging in the bathroom. One of my favorite things about the city is that chandeliers are everywhere. They are in coffee shops, bakeries, dive bars, night clubs, hotels, restaurants and even the bazaars at holiday markets. Each time I see one hanging somewhere, I think about the daydreams of my youth, sitting under the pink chandelier in my family’s dining room, wondering what my life would be like when I grew up and had a chandelier all my own.

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  • Coke Icees: Ever since I was little and would walk to Burger King with my friends after particularly bad days, I have loved coke icees. I believe they can cure a multitude of ills. I am also lucky because my best friend and my baby sister have the same belief. We have seen how sipping the cheap, gas station treat can cool off anger at friends, momentarily heal broken hearts, and temporarily make the unknown less scary. But icees aren’t just for bad times. My first solo date was in middle school. Since we didn’t want parent chaperones, we had to walk, so we walked to Burger King. We shared icees and our first kiss, and since then the taste of a coke icee, particularly on a warm day, brings me back to childhood crushes, young love, and the idea that you are the only person in the history of the world that has ever been so happy.
  • When that song comes on the radio: Full disclosure, I am not a music person in the way that many people are. I am a books person, a poetry person, a fashion person, an art person, but music escapes me. I love lyrics, I love dancing, and I love that feeling of community that can only be found at concerts when groups of people find answers in the same songs. But, for me, my love of songs often have more to do with the fact they gave me hope and a sense of belonging during some moment in my life. And sometimes that feeling becomes attached to that song for more than a moment, but a lifetime . Here are some songs that have become more than songs to me, but reminders, and beacons, and wishes unspoken: Just To See You Smile by Tim McGraw, Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by Billy Joel, Wild World by Cat Stevens, She’s Everything by Brad Paisley, Work by Jimmy Eat World, Awake by Secondhand Serenade, In My Life by The Beatles and Brat Pack by The Rocket Summer. 
  • Conversations that never end: There is probably nothing I like better than when I end up with someone and spend hours talking to them about everything. The other day I met three of my favorite people for coffee and we talked for hours without pause. It made me feel more alive than almost anything. When people sit down and try to make sense of the world, it is beautiful. I love when you meet someone you are just getting to know, and that first real conversation, that first conversation with meaning, happens and alters your relationship. And I love when you sit down with a friend you haven’t been able to catch up with in months, and you are able to recharge your love story by simply realizing you still have so much to say to each other.

And a list because this post is already getting so long: I love super soft mattresses covered in fresh sheets and tons of pillows, wearing flowers in my hair, little girls running around with flowers and tutus and big dreams that have not been crushed yet, watching someone fall in love from a far, taco stands, a really good frozen margarita, a new tube of mascara, a glass of red wine and a best friend, a phone call or email from someone you deeply missed and didn’t even realize it, blazers that seem tailored for your body, when your best friend falls asleep in your bed, old books, stores that are filled with the most random collection of treasures, bananas and strawberries cut up and served in a bowl, One Tree Hill seasons 1-6, really good hair days, when the subway comes right as you get to the platform, scenes when Harry and Ginny are falling in love, story lines about the love that can only exist between best friends, that moment when you wake up and you think your dreams really happened, perfectly worded sentences, when my friends’ dreams come true,  a piece of artwork that for a moment gives your life a whole new meaning.