Letters from Me, Day 12: Anya Z., Jersey City, NJ

Dear Anya,

Girl, you must be the sparkliest, most spectacularly glittery, more fire-work-iest friend I've got.

Beyond your penchant for shiny things, and your 700 watt smile, you've got a heart to blind the angels and a mind that glows bright like a full moon in October. Basically, you're a great big light in my life and I just want you to know how much I love basking in it. I truly treasure the Anya time I get, whenever it happens. 

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Back when we met, in the fall of 2002, when we were the tallest freshmen on the BU Women's rowing team, we got to hang out pretty much everyday. Monday-Friday, early morning practice and afternoon cardio and weights. Saturday practice at 8 (brutal for Friday night parties), followed by the biggest breakfast ever eaten by 18 year old girls, and then gathering in a dorm room, strewn over beds, desk chairs and on the floor, to watch movies (on DVD, of course, on our PCs.) Or a stroll down Newbury Street for shoes or earrings or hair dye or ice cream. Sunday was brunch day and more city exploring. When, oh when, did we ever do homework? I don't remember. Oh that's right...in the middle of the night.

By the time we were entering our senior year, we made plans to embark on the greatest adventure we'd had so far.

We were about to spend 3 1/2 months across the pond, in misty London, the land of adorable accents, drinking on the subway and of course eating our way through every neighborhood to which we could find our way (and even some we couldn't...black cab, help!)

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That semester, we lived in close quarters - at our house in Kensington Gardens, and in hostels around Europe. One would think we'd have gotten sick of each other, but all that hanging out everyday made me realize that you were truly a kindred spirit. Not only are you smart and funny, you are a truly compassionate and kind soul. You go out of your way to make people happy, to give them a reason to trust you, to put their minds at ease and make them believe in themselves. 

I learned that semester that when I am with you, I am my best self. 

Just by you being there, you make the day better. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. I've conducted an informal poll of friends and family of mine that have met you, and all have answered (with 100% certainty) that you bring joy into every room you enter. 

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The years since London have brought us all over the country, as we've spread out and started new adventures of our own. 

We left Boston...I moved to Philly and you, Brooklyn and eventually Jersey City. I had the bonus of living in a town not too far from your parents' house. And what is better than a night at Bonnie and Stan's? Not much, that's for sure. They've always been part of the Anya package for me, since we've been hanging out with them as long as we have with you. Knowing them, it's easy to see how you grew up into the fabulous, brilliant person you are.

We've met some pretty awesome dudes along the way.

They (unsurprisingly) get along swimmingly with all of us, and each other. Jeff is not only smart and talented, but he cares so much about you - it's evident when you two are together that your love is strong. I am so happy you are happy in that love, in your beautiful apartment, with your adorable dog. If Amanda circa 2005 saw you in this life, I know she'd be overjoyed.

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We've started jobs, ended jobs, changed directions and made big choices.

And best of all, we've been there to support each other through each crazy, big, wild moment that life has thrown at us. I remember a moment when we were catching up at my big NYC holiday party just weeks before I was leaving my job at FTI. You were my +1, and you too were leaving your job soon. We were nervous, rattled, excited about the future. But what I loved was how you told me the whole story and your plans (or desire for some) with a great big smile. You didn't know what was next, but you knew you'd make it something awesome. And you have.

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Proud and honored doesn't begin to describe how I feel to be your friend. You do shine, brighter than any diamond (or bedazzle or rhinestone!) I hope to have that light in my life for a long time. A very long time.

Love,

Amanda