Letters from Me, Day 28: Michelle Cryder, Philadelphia, PA

Dear Michelle,

It was a fateful day almost 2 years ago when we were both on the beach at a Yelp event. I saw a young woman with a striking profile in her floppy beach hat, reading a novel, out of the fray of over-eager NJ and NY Yelpers who were trying to make friends with everyone. I thought, "she's not obsessed with meeting a thousand people. Clearly, that means she's way cooler than all of them. And clearly, she must be my friend." It didn't take long for us to make it so.

I soon learned that we were neighbors, both of the south side of West Philly. I had total apartment envy, once I visited you at home. TWO BEDROOMS? For one person? A mantle?! Your abode was so cute, warm and inviting. The proximity of our places made hanging out real convenient, and we proceeded to meander our neighborhoods in search of the best late night snacks, whiskey cocktails or craft beers.

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Speaking of late night snacks, whiskey cocktails and craft beers, I am deeply in awe and have great admiration for your culinary tastes. I tend to take friends' word very seriously when it comes to new restaurants or recipes, but also with a grain of salt, tempered by how much they may love bad Chinese food or think Yuengling is a great beer. With you, there's no grain of salt necessary. Michelle Cryder restaurant reviews can be taken as gospel. And if you're cooking it, I want to cook it next. I remember fondly the day you gave me a Ziploc full of chopped pumpkin, because you're basically a squash wizard.

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And on the note of wizardry, let it be known you are also a wizard of words. I was delighted to learn you were also a copywriter, and have on many occasions, picked your brain or commiserated about the world of writing - especially on the internet. You know all of the faults and foibles committed by our fellow marketers when it comes to using words. You share my deep passion for impeccable grammar, and your writing extends far beyond the confines of your 9-5 job and college career. You've made a home for your words all over the web, from your amazing blog Whiskey and Watercress to Geekadelphia to guest posts here there and everywhere. You inspire me to write more - to write well - in fact, you were part of the inspiration for this letter writing project after we talked 750words.com together. I wanted to write with purpose, to write for an impact, and this was the direction I chose. We'll see what the next year brings for us both, but I know you have great things in store for your writing...and I can't wait to be along for the ride.

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With all we have in common - ridiculous cats, bearded techy boyfriends, a penchant for quirky jewelry - it's crazy to think how we could *not* be friends. But I still consider myself to be one of the lucky ones who has gotten a view into your world, for it is a lovely one to behold. You are a truly remarkable woman, who has accomplished so much in your young life, and soared to great heights with brilliance and creativity, a mighty willpower, an unflappable sense of who you are and who you want to be and a powerful purpose of being. I so admire you for your strength of character through life's ups and downs. You carry yourself with a grace I only wish I had at 27.

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I am so happy for you and all you've grown and gained (and lost) since we met. You're embarking on some amazing changes - new house, new projects, a soon to be completed degree, a lifetime of awesome to look forward to. I am excited to see what life has in store for you, and what you have in store for all of us.

I am grateful to be your friend and hope we can continue to sip drinks, crack up, commiserate, chill out, lounge, shop, indulge, cook, concoct, collaborate and connect for years to come. You're one of the reasons #whyilovephilly so much!

Love,

Amanda