An Open Letter to the Greatest Gifts of My Life: My Friends

Most of the people in our lives we cannot explain. For instance, we don't know how or why we ended up with the family we did. We just did. We woke up one day to our mom, to our dad, to our brother and sister, to a dog (lucky), and maybe to a cat (unlucky). It's family; and however it may be, whatever shape it may take, it's what we have. We float through life knowing that these are the constants, the standing pillars that will forever be present to us, in some way or another.

My family is an interesting one. Constantly evolving, my family unit has not always been easy to endure. There has been divorce, girlfriends, boyfriends, sometimes mom, sometimes dad, and never a settled moment. And so for me, and perhaps for most of us, the best way we survive our families is to step outside of the unit we've been bestowed in order to find our friends. Those precious people that make up our second home away from home, our family of choice, and our source of solidarity in this mixed up world.

I've found that friends for a young person especially are everything. We leave the nest and venture into a strange new world that is made all the more bearable by our compatriots who are just trying to figure it all out too. School, internships, jobs, travels are all sources from which we discover the people that make it all worth it. They stick by your side and hold your hand when no one else will. You look at your friends and wonder how you ever survived without them, how you could ever make it down the road ahead without them.

Friends sometimes seem like a given, like a gift that needs no appreciation because everyone has them. However it is in this life, this life in which we don't get to choose much, we must remember that we choose our friends every day. We choose who we let into our lives and we choose to love them. It is a conscious decision -- one that should be considered with reverence and gratitude. We must cherish in our friends because they are the ones that give us perspective, give us strength, and give us life.

And so, this is my letter of love and appreciation for the greatest gifts of my life: my friends. I write to you all, every one of you, to tell you that life is made sweeter by you.

You see I am convinced that I have the greatest friends in the world, ones that have yours beat any day of the week. They have come to me in the most brilliant of circumstances, never ceasing to amaze me with their unconditional love and support. These are people that fly from New York just to piece you back together after a breakup. They sing all the embarrassing songs and let you dance however you see fit. They drive with you to Santa Barbara just to visit a boy, to get lost on the beach, and to eat a burrito with you at the end of the night. They run with you to the rooftop party in Georgetown to see the boy, to get a great story, to have an adventure. They make you homemade cookies while you sit on the kitchen floor and drink cold milk. They hitchhike with you in the middle of France on the way to the winery. They eat endless bruscetta and pasta in your hometown, listening to your stories and giving you advice. They've been to every one of your birthdays, are in all of your home videos. They cry with you in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl when UCLA wins. They sit with you at the Lincoln Memorial until four in the morning, just because they want to be with you at the start of your birthday. They surprise you under the Eiffel Tower at sunrise. They sit with you on your bedroom floor while you cry and they tell you they love you, that they'll never leave. And they never do.

They are the heroes of my life. The people that somehow waltzed into my life and the people of whom I will never be able to let go. I don't know what I did in a past life to deserve them. They are my kindred spirits, my soul mates. We've seen the world together, seen the best and worst in each other, and in the end, only ever known how to love each other.

They are the people that have given me the best memories of my life and I can only hope that I give them as much love and joy as they have given me. So thank you to you all. Thank you for every day, every memory, every moment in which we have shared.

For we cannot take for granted the treasures of our lives, especially not our friends. Those that have endured with you and those that have endlessly loved you. Make known your love and appreciation for the friends of your life. Because faithful friends are hard to find, and even harder to hold onto.