Letters from Me, Day 41: Megan S., Newburgh, NY

Dear Megan,

You are a bright, brilliant and beautiful woman - and you have been since we've met.

It's been almost 13 years since we started rowing together at BU, leaving together from 575 Commonwealth Avenue - the HoJo - at 4:20am to make it to the boathouse at sunrise. 

We were fast friends back then, and I always looked up to you as a rower, a student and a friend. You always seemed to be a step ahead of us, to always have your game together a bit more, even if we were all figuring it out as we went along - you had a bit more figured out.

While we all lived in the dorms sophomore year, you had that cool apartment off campus. I loved coming over for cocktails, parties, to watch games or movies or just to chill out, tell stories and be ridiculous, sprawled all over your living room.

We had some amazing times in school, making Boston our playground and our testing ground for being grown ups who dined out, danced and drank fancy drinks.  We were planning our lives and our futures, while having fun and staying young and in the moment. After graduation, we all went our own ways...but made promises to stay in touch.

And we've kept those promises! Luckily, you were right down the highway from my parents' house, and a few hours north of NYC, so we've had more adventures since we parted ways. I remember meeting you in Bryant Park for just a few hours one time, where our timetables just barely crossed. Another time, you saw our post that we were caught in a snowstorm at a hotel near your house, and we spontaneously met up for breakfast the next day before we continued north. And then there was the weekend we all spent together in Chicago three years ago - a raucous and beautiful and elegant and hilarious few days where it felt like we were all back in school....except we all had jobs and lives and brand new stories to swap!

Spending time with you is always a joy, and we definitely could use more of it in our lives. This summer, there are more adventures to come in the Poconos! I can't wait to talk all night, sip drinks all afternoon, be in the beauty of the mountains together and just create a new favorite moment in our shared experiences.

Here's to friendship, to living well, to staying friends and spending time together for the next 13 years, and beyond! Thank you for being my friend, Meegs. You are truly awesome.

Love,

Amanda

Letters from Me, Day 39: Rachel Wolf, New Orleans, LA

Dear Rachel,

Or Wolf, Wolfy, Wolferino, as I've called you as long as I've known you...a time that is tipping the hourglass at almost 10 years these days. When we met, you were a freshman at BU and our worlds collided through a capella. 

I immediately loved you for your voice, your style and before long, how you were just as wacky as I was. Your brain works quickly to make jokes, some overt, some subtle, but rarely lost on me. Your humor was, to me, the things that solidified our friendship.

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Over the next year and a half, we danced, recorded songs, walked and talked, made plans, had parties, dined and drank through West Campus and Brookline, laughed our faces off, singing and harmonizing with each other every step of the way. Time and space brought us apart as you spent time in Boston, New York, eventually New Orleans, and I found my way to Philly.

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We were reunited last year at Raven's wedding, a glorious, magical weekend in the sweet Boston summer with it's share of joy, laughter, hilarity (which included jokes, new and old, and some minor mishaps,) and of course - harmony. 

You were the same. But somehow even more yourself than you'd ever been. Hearing about your life in New Orleans, I felt the adventure you sought, the days full of new experiences, the parades and costumes and sunrises and pedicab rides and performances and late nights full of laughter and spontaneity. 

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You were the Rachel Wolf I had known so long ago, but with even more stories, even more life in your eyes and energy in your spirit.

I can't wait until our paths cross again. Perhaps a Chords reunion, perhaps another wedding, perhaps a roadtrip down south will take the road into New Orleans. 

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Until that day comes, I hope this letter finds you well. I wish you the joy to live with your whole heart. I wish that good things come your way. I wish you strength in the hard times. I wish you perfect mornings when you wake up and know you're exactly where you're meant to be. And if you're not, I wish you wings to get yourself there.

All the best from Philadelphia, my dear.

Love,

Amanda

Letters from Me, Day 37: Liam Mulshine, Philadelphia, PA

Dear Liam,

It was 10 years ago this summer that our adventures together began. 

We started in Boston while working for the BU Office of Orientation. We spent the summer corralling college pre-frosh and anxious parents around campus and the city by day (sometimes at 6:15am! Thursday mornings at OOCS!) and gathering in cramped on-campus apartments with Trader Joe's wine and snacks at night before venturing to Fenway to dance til the wee hours...and then getting up and doing it all over again. Our energy never waned and I'm not sure when we slept. But we were falling in love with our freedoms, our capabilities, our philosophies, our friends, our lovers, our city, ourselves.

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You and I got "married" that summer, with flowers that might be considered weeds, hair frizzy from humidity and flushed faces from lack of air conditioning. Of all the friends and coworkers I met that year, you and I had a special bond, a balance of over-exuberance and curiosity, expressiveness and thoughtfulness, hand in hand. I felt that though we were quite different, we were spiritually so similar, both living as truthfully as we could, with joy in our hearts. 

Photo courtesy of Liam Mulshine on SnapChat, Original Photo by Boston University Office of Orientation

Photo courtesy of Liam Mulshine on SnapChat, Original Photo by Boston University Office of Orientation

The months that followed my departure from Boston were peppered by postcards sent back and forth, Facebook posts, messages and the occasional phone call.

In the years that passed, I watched you grow, evolve and blossom out in California...and around the country and the world. I watched you trying new things, capturing the beauty around you, becoming more yourself than you'd ever been.

Last year, I was surprised to hear you were coming into Philly. We had a perfect little low key lunch at Hip City Veg near Penn, where both of our boyfriends were in school. What serendipity. We caught up, we laughed and for a moment in time, it seemed like all those years had been but a few months since Boston.

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And then this year, on my 31st birthday, I got the loveliest message. You (and your adorable orange cat) were making the big move back to the east coast...to Philly!

I am so happy to reconnect with you after all of this time, and to be able to welcome you to the city I've come to love, that's been my home for 6 years, that I can't wait for you to fall in love with too. You've said people have been nice here so far, and you like the pop-up beer gardens. I think it's a great start, and there's so many more wonderful things to come, I'm sure of it.

Here's to the next ten years, wherever they take us and whatever they may bring. I wish you adventure in your travels, comfort in your home, fulfillment in your days, laughter in waking, peace in sleeping and love in your heart. You are one of a kind, Liam and I am lucky to know you.

Love,

Amanda

Letters from Me, Day 36: Ashley Raven, Waltham, MA

Dear Raven,

You are such a special person.

We have known each other for almost 10 whole years, since our paths collided my senior year of college at Boston University. You were a freshman, young, yes, but with a powerful presence, an infectious laugh and a drive to make great music. I knew from the moment I met you that we'd be friends. 

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You quickly took Chordially Yours by storm, arranging songs, helping others learn their parts, warming us up and making sure everyone was where they should be. You brought us to new heights in the year and a half I got to sing with you, and I attribute so much of the group's success to you and the wisdom and skills you passed down to the younger classes as each year passed.

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You are talented beyond belief. You have the amazing ability to hear a song, immediately harmonize, capture the melody, the bass line and the beat and create - within hours - a full musical and performance experience out of a simple mp3. You are truly brilliant, too, not just with music, but also with your work and all you do. I love catching up with you every so often about the things you're pursuing and how you're helping people.

You are kind and giving. In your work, your music, your play, your relationships, your interactions with strangers even, you give all you can. You have always had the most generous spirit, which I remember most fondly in tougher moments, when I didn't know how much I needed a friend. It was those times you reminded me one of the best ones was never far. It was hard for me to stay behind in Boston an extra year, after my class had graduated and moved on, but having you helped me keep hope alive.

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It was a few years after I moved away that I planned a trip to visit you and attend the spring Chords concert with a bunch of the grandmas and great grandmas of the group. It was that trip that I met Suzanne and saw the love you two share blossoming before my eyes. I was so happy to celebrate your love, our friends, the music we heard and sang, the memories we kept and the new ones we made. It was a joy to be with you once again, and it felt like time hadn't passed at all.

Then, another few years later, I got one of my most treasured notes of all time. A group of us Chords girls were invited to celebrate your and Suzanne's relationship in the biggest way - at your wedding. And not only were we invited to attend, you were arranging a song for us all to sing for your bride, in front of all of your friends and family. I could not have anticipated the amazing two days we shared, as we rehearsed, hugged, caught up, dined and drank, dressed to the nines. You two looked so beautiful, and it was clear in all of the festivities that you could not have been more perfect for one another. The love was palpable, and the few minutes we stood to sing Ben Folds' The Luckiest were some of the most special I'd ever spent with you ladies. Pure joy, unadulterated.

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You make everyone in your life feel loved. I know you will live a full and happy life. When you lift others up, you stay on the highest ground, free of negativity and pettiness. You bring all of your talents and your brilliance and your kindness to the people around you, and I know you are loved by so many.

I am so lucky to know you, Raven. Thank you for being in my life, for keeping me in yours, for the times we've shared and the memories we've yet to make. Stay joyful, shine on, sing on.

Love,

Amanda

Letters from Me, Day 29: Michael Wertlieb, Bali, Indonesia

Dear Michael,

You are like a bright, colorful ball of light, draped in scarves and silver, riding a magic carpet around the world, bringing peace and love to everyone who's life you touch. I'm so lucky to be counted among your friends, and look forward to every time we get to see one another, whether it's my house or yours, East Coast or West.

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I first felt your energy almost 10 years ago, and it burned as bright then as it does now.

It was love at first sight when we met at the Full House party at my place in Allston. So much so, that we decided to embark on a week-long tour of San Francisco during spring break with our mutual friends. The trip proved to be one of epic proportions, with adventure, intrigue, lots of amazing food and wine, very little sleep, dancing galore, new friends in every city and stories to be told for years to come. Regardless of the difficult parts of that journey, I look back at our time fondly. We were 21, we had all the energy in the world and a Chevy Malibu to take us wherever we could imagine. 

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Over the next year, we spent time together in and around Boston. I remember attending your film premiere in Harvard Square and getting cocoa together in the cool months of late 2006. 

Time and space separated us, but not for long, as we collided time after time up and down the eastern seaboard.

For several years, we met up, for day trips or overnights, here and there. We picnicked, we shopped, we dined, we napped, we did yoga, we took road trips, we picked apples, we experienced the sunshine (and the dark and sparkling night life) of Philadelphia, we explored cafes in Fair Lawn and tooled around New York. We exchanged adventures and excitement like friendship bracelets. You baptized me with water blessed by Amma in my driveway in Bryn Mawr. I sent you home with a bag of tiny pancakes and tubes of honey. Our stories were as varied as our hair length, and we never stopped taking risks and living large.

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When you invited me to relive our San Francisco trip, I don't think you thought I'd say yes immediately. It was just days before you moved south to LA, but you welcomed me with open arms. We paid homage to Lesbian Redwood Day (March 9th!) and made new memories up and down the coast, at a charming bed and breakfast in the mountains, in a sweet neighborhood in Santa Cruz with Ocean, at the Harbin Hot Springs, taking in the gorgeous views and kale salad. I think that was the first vacation I returned cleansed, healthier than when I'd left Philly. It was a joy to spend those few days with you, soaking in your world and meeting your friends and feeling the sun on my face in California, the long distance crush I'd harbored for 7 years. I felt born anew - world's farther along than I'd been in college, more myself than I'd been in my life, and with you, who had come into your own and was about to embark on a new chapter of life very soon. It was all so perfect, like most of our serendipitous sojourns.

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Since then, life has skyrocketed you to even greater heights, all the way around the world to Bali. Your life there is such a joy to follow - the colors, the foods, the scenery, the people you've met along the way. You're doing work that you love and treating your body with the utmost sacred care and it shows. You positively glow. I am so thrilled you're on this adventure, and I look so forward to the next time our paths cross, wherever that may be.

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Thank you for all that you've given me over the years. You're a true friend who will always tell me the truth, always with kindness, compassion and warmth. Your light brightens any room you enter and I've been lucky enough to bask in that glow more times than I can count. I hope to see you someday soon, and hope this letter finds it all the way across the world to you. You mean the world to me, Michael. Be well.

Love,

Amanda

Believe in Boston

The bombings in Boston that happened yesterday made me ache for all of the people affected and all of the people in Boston who were scared for their lives and their city. It made me wish they were safe and long for a time when the scariest thing to happen on Boylston Street was a thong slipping down in the gay pride parade.

It was incredible to see all of the love and support on my facebook feed from all of the friends who live near or around Boston and were checking in and confirming that they or their family members were safe, or ones that lived no where near Boston and were just saying that they were standing with the people of Boston. It was truly wonderful to see everyone come together. I posted a picture that Josie had shared of Mr. Rogers, with a caption that said something like, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

And in Boston yesterday, there were good people going to help. The medical tents that were set up for the runners now were helping explosion victims. The police were clearing spectators away, and keeping everyone calm. Runners themselves were rushing to nearby hospitals to donate blood for the victims that had suffered massive injuries. It truly showed that people come together in an emergency and can do the right thing.

But to have to get to that, it's just painful and sickening that it did. I hope that the media attention and press that this attack is getting is not enough to make some other lunatic want to top this atrocity with his or her own massacre. One of my facebook friends posted yesterday about how we need to drastically increase the mental health facilities and care in this country instead of enacting laws to prevent violence. I am for preventing violence through gun control, but I thought she was absolutely right about the mental health services. People aren't getting the care they need and are already off the deep end, sinking lower and lower into psychosis, to a place where they feel they need to reach out by killing or blowing up public places.

It's depressing that it comes to that for some individuals, but it's a fact of life, so it's something we as a country need to handle. We can't ignore that aspect of the problem any longer. These people aren't committing these heinous crimes because they have evil inside of them. They are unstable and unwell. And they need help. If we can get people like them help before something terrible happens, then we may be able to prevent the next Sandy Hook or Boston Marathon.

I just wish that I could somehow invoke all of my good memories of Marathon Monday in Boston, all of everyone's good memories of the day, from the years and years it's been going on, the cheering, the laughter, the sunshine, the good fellowship that existed all around the city that day...I wish I could harness all of those good feelings and project them back on yesterday and just erase what happened.

I think instead, I will look to keep Boston safe in my heart. Preserve my memories as sacred things that I can treasure for my lifetime, that will remain unmarred in my past. And hopefully, by the time, we get to next year, Boston will come back bigger and better than ever, ready to take on the world and ready to say, "We aren't going anywhere."