When I made the decision to move to Chicago, though it seemed to be an easy one, it truly was not. I struggled a lot with fear and with guilt. I was terrified of leaving my home and my family — terrified of what would happen without me there, even though, all things considered, I would still be quite close to my hometown. I was afraid of not liking it, I was afraid of mistakes and the future and all of the atrocities that could be. 

I had always dreamt of moving away and planting my feet upon new ground, but sometimes when dreams come this close, so close you can wrap your hand around them and pull them into your heart, it becomes a lot more terrifying than one could imagine.

But in February, a new life started, and I never realized until months later. A failed trip to a museum and hikes in the snow and late movies all culminated into a future and I don’t think that any of us recognized it.

That night was the first night I ever heard my poetry recited back to me (I run my fingers through your tangles of hair; you whisper stories into my hands.”), and it was the first night I knew that if we were all accepted, if everything worked out, that we would all be okay. They made me laugh all the time. I didn’t know Kyle very well, but I wanted to know him, and I knew Brandon from childhood but wanted to know who he was as we became adults. Every time hanging out with Julie felt like finding a part of me in someone else, and I never wanted that to go away.

Even though I wasn’t sure of where I stood with them, okay was all I wanted to be. And that’s what it was.

We grew a lot with one another over the summer. I told secrets and mapped out the stars and we held hands and fell over and traveled. We crammed into the backseat and slept. We ran through the rain. We drank lots of rum. We told stories.

They made it better. They made me understand. They took the fear and they put it with their own and we got through the nerves and the anxiety together.

And here we are. I’m here, in the city, madly in love, with my family who are my friends who hold the coziest and most important parts of my heart.

I try to imagine being here without them, and I try to imagine going through life without them and it pains me. Their hands to hold, their laughter, their troubles, their quirks and their burdens. I love all of it. I sincerely can’t think of a better group to start a life with. 

So I want to celebrate them here and with all of you, so you know exactly what I mean when I exclaim I love my friends.

Happy Monday — it’s time to celebrate.