Recently I came across a posting and I was so excited as I sent it to Lily:

“I’m working on casting a feature film for Paramount Pictures, and we are in need of some REAL best friends to be featured in the film. We are looking for genuine people with a real history together. “Real People” NOT actors. Please include your contact info, pics of both you and your BFF, and a paragraph about your history as best friends.”

She promptly tagged me in a post on Instagram with a little blurb about our friendship and included a link to the full length post in her bio. It was more of a novella than a paragraph, but every sentence made me want to simultaneously fight her for insulting me and laugh until I cry because of the memories it brought back. She dug up what I imagine she’d call gems, pictures of us from middle school that I’ve tried so hard to forget, and included some of my worst looking moments in her posts. If Lily and I were to stop being friends, it’d probably be like how John Mulaney views his exes:

“They have a lot of information… Anyone who has seen my dick and met my parents needs to die. I can’t have them roaming around.”

Except instead of “dick” it’s “middle school and high school pictures” and instead of “met my parents” it’s “having proof of my existence before college”.

I don’t think we’ll ever reach this point because our lives are now so entwined that we rely on each other to remember our own past.

On the that fateful day when our paths crossed in 2005, I was chasing this boy around on the playground because he bet I couldn’t run as fast as he could and this new-in-town transfer student joined me in the chase. He was right, I’ll begrudgingly admit. I don’t think we ever caught him and neither of us developed much enthusiasm for running. While we didn’t get the boy, we got each other.

It was the beginning of many sleepovers, birthday parties, pool days, and SAT prep classes. She introduced me to all the board games, pasta salad at her swim meets, scrapbooking, summer camp at Emory, and those awful Coke or Pepsi books that contain another trove of blackmail-able nightmares. Somewhere along the way, she called me Dodo because I was stupid and I called her Lulu because Lili sounds too much like Lily.

In middle school we weren’t as fortunate. Every year, we’d compare schedules and be disappointed that we had no classes together. Our luck changed in 8th grade when we both started our mornings in Gifted Language Arts. I’m not sure why, but we were given a ridiculous amount of freedom and spent many of our days drawing on windows for teachers instead of learning anything substantial.

Our Physics class allowed us to work on projects with people from different periods, so of course we worked together. There was the fortune cookie failure and the Rube Goldberg success. Failure because none of our cookies baked correctly, so my mom had to buy fortune cookies in bulk (500 to be exact) and we inserted our own handwritten fortunes on tiny slips of paper. Success because the bar was so low from our fortune cookie mishap that anything that went more smoothly was considered successful.

Throughout all 4 years of high school, we only had chemistry together. She took French while I took Spanish. She dropped music and I was still in dorkestra. We were able to hang out at TSA meetings and conferences because she convinced me to join this club. Most of our time spent together was after the sun had set when we were finally free of our advisor or when we were staying up finishing event projects at State conference.

Our last TSA state conference was our first timing finishing in first place and I celebrated our unprecedented win with a sappy post thanking the person who dragged me into what were some of the best times of my high school career. I ended my post saying, “Now let’s get pumped for Nationals and have the time of our lives before college comes and we have to grow up.”

College came and we grew up.

I joined a sorority while she joined Badminton Club. I was in AMSA while she was in ChinaCare. I worked at a yoga studio while she worked at a bakery. I volunteered at CHOA while she mentored youth. I spent many nights in lab while she spent hers at dance practice. I developed a love for dresses and dress pants while she loved oversized hoodies and bunny ponchos.

But through all of these tumultuous changes and uncertainties, we still had each other. Through the chaos of college, she was my one constant. Although we grew up, we didn’t grow apart despite our star-crossed schedules.

I’d buy bubble tea from her fundraisers and she attended my philanthropy nights. She saved the day when no one signed up to volunteer with me at the Ronald McDonald House and we cooked up enough hamburgers to serve a crowd of 50 (and almost set the kitchen on fire, classic Lily). I volunteered with her at Chinacare events and made paper lanterns to celebrate the Midautumn Festival. We’d buy each other food when we continued our weekly tradition of catching up after the sun had set because that was the only time we were both free. We spent our last spring break ever in Boston and figured out public transportation. We even signed up for a 5K together because we were determined to run. This is only funny because Lily didn’t respond to any calls that morning. I waited outside her dorm for an hour and she conveniently texted me just as the race was ending. Another constant that hasn’t changed since the fourth grade: our mutual disdain for running.

Our last Christmas in college came and I wrote her a letter that concluded with something along the lines of, “Now let’s enjoy our last semester of college before graduation comes and we really have to grow up.”

Graduation came. I attended hers and she came to both of mine.  Even though our post-graduation schedules remain as busy as ever, we still make time for each other. Not that anyone’s ever asked, but I think the secret to how we’ve been friends for so long is that we put in the effort to spend time together, whether it’s spontaneous bubble tea runs or yoga classes after work or attempting to be productive at her house on the weekends.

Lily once said, “Our friendship is built on a solid foundation of stupidity from prepubescent times until now.” While I’d like to call this next chapter in our lives “Dodo and Lulu Navigate Their Early 20s”, I hope that saying will still be true decades from now.

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