Allison and I grew up together, but didn't become friends until our junior year of high school. We had a number of classes together, and over the course of that year evolved from being just classmates. I have a vivid memory of us sitting in the back of our physics class, spending the entire block playing rock-paper-scissors against each other across the room. We literally did this on a daily basis, and at some point I remember looking across the room at her and laughing in the middle of a game, thinking, "Why the hell did it take so long for her and I to find each other?" Up until that year Allison had just been another peer-- someone who I passed in the hallway and only spent time with during 5th grade when we were on the same little league softball team (I should correct that...undefeated little league softball team. First time in our town's history. Allison and I have the shirts to prove it). But thankfully for us we ended up with nearly identical junior year class schedules, and thus ended up becoming best friends.
During the second half of my high school career I drifted away from most of the girlfriends I'd had since middle school. That drift was caused mostly by a combination of starting to date someone seriously for the first time, a boy who went to a different school and thus took up a lot of my free time, and the natural effect of adolescence: growing up and growing apart. Allison and I became friends during that drift, and she quickly became my "go-to" person. In a short amount of time we became very close, and have remained so to this day.
I am unbelievably thankful for Allison and the 11 year friendship we've had. She has always encouraged me and pushed me in every aspect of my life. In some ways we are very different, in some ways we are very similar, and she's always respected and valued both our differences and similarities. I am always drawn to people who tease out the rebellious side of me, and Allison is one of the people who does that the best, starting back when she convinced me to cut Physics class, telling our teacher we had to go to a "Physics Club Meeting" (clearly neither of us were destined to excel in the sciences). She is always willing to lend an attentive ear, gives amazing, insightful advice, and is heartfelt in every action and conversation you have with her.
Today I was lucky enough to spend time with Allison. As the years have passed we've seen less of each other-- a product of lifestyle, schedules and her "nomadic" tendencies-- but that has never impacted our closeness or been an issue of contention. We just make sure to fully appreciate the times we have together. Today we met for coffee, she in town briefly during her winter break of business school. We talked about our professional paths, politics, our usual philosophical discussion and laughed about the ridiculousness of our youth. My sophisticated, intelligent, hilarious best friend who commands any room she's in casually drank her coffee, telling me of her impending west coast trip, and all of a sudden I saw her as an 11th grader, always throwing rock when I threw scissors, and thought again how thankful I am that we found each other.