I met Alaina in Mr. Rosche's English class in 7th grade 1991. At the end of 7th grade, 1992 I invited her to crash my sisters end of the school year pool party in my backyard. Nicole and I were on the outs and I liked Alaina a lot.
We pretended to be sports broadcasters while Sharen and her friends played volleyball, we swam and ate and played and just generally sealed the beginning of one of my favorite friendships.
We generally continued in this exact same fashion for the rest of school, into university and up until 5am Monday June 29th and beyond. I love hanging out with Alaina. We can talk about serious things, and sometimes we do. But generally, what we do best is giggle and make witty and intelligent observations about what's happening around us. (And we're very very humble)
Alaina and I have an easy sort of friendship that is deceptive to some people. Because sometimes, it seems like we just do nothing together. We just wander around and laugh and chit chat. But it's all of those small things that have built up the foundation of one of my longest friendships.
We've laughed through break ups and make ups, deaths of family members, moves all over Ohio, living together and going from spending virtually every moment together to hardly seeing each other. Though it all, the laughter and comfortability connects us.
Alaina is the first person I created inside jokes with so pervasive that we can just look at each other in any given situation and burst into laughter. It's a habit that drives our other friends, and often significant others absolutely batty. We've had to learn to temper some of that because it also causes people to feel left out, which we don't mean to do. We wrote an underground mock newspaper in high school and I still have some copies at my house. We couch surfed on that crazy red sofa in her basement, drank Kool-Aid (or was it Hi-C?) and tequila, had a few to many jello shots, swam in the wee hours of the morning at my house, drove through a tornado. Once I fell asleep on the remote and made her watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the pitch black basement at my parents house. She's still a little mad at me about that...
It's hard to quantify what makes my friendship with Alaina so meaningful, because it can seem so trivial to those on the outside. But she has my history. That's invaluable and undefinable.
When we graduated high school in 1997 we both went to Youngstown State University. I loved living with Alaina in that tiny room in Lyden Hall. We would talk late into the night and I would wake her up when I thought a killer had broken into our dorm room. (Turns out it was just My Buddy doll on top of the wardrobe). She drove me to the ER when I broke my right foot at a party and drove to get me saltines so my 19 year old self could sober up while I waited for a drive by to be taken care of. When I walked in the dorm room with my air cast Alaina would cue up "Bring in the gimp" from Pulp Fiction and I would cue up the Hallelujah Chorus when she would come back from class. We tried to be psychic at 2 in the morning, "Ok what color am I thinking of...now" I chased her up and down her bed with a trash can early one morning after a particularly boisterous night out with Lori and woke her up when she fell asleep in the bathroom. We discovered toilet corn (someone candy corned the toilets on our floor one halloween, we did not eat that candy corn just to be clear) and wondered how one person could actually eat that much cottage cheese in one sitting.
When I decided to drop out of YSU, just before they invited me to leave, I was scared to tell her because I didn't want to disappoint her. But she was encouraging and told me that she wanted me to do what I needed to do. It was hard getting used to not being with her everyday.
She stayed in Youngstown for awhile, then came back to Clyde for a bit. During the time she was back in Clyde she worked at the carryout with me where Denise would later be killed. We went out every Friday to a bar in Sandusky and often made treks to Akron until the wee hours of the morning. I made fun of her bracelet (which she didn't appreciate).
The night Denise was killed I was called by someone I worked with at Whirlpool around 11pm. I ran out of the house without pants on and my mom chased after me with shorts. My mom and I got to the carryout amidst police cars and ambulances and I just had no idea what to do or how to move forward. I don't know exactly how, I think my mom called Alaina's house, we could have just gone over and woken them up maybe, I can't remember. My mom had to go home because she worked in the morning and she needed to tell my dad what was happening. I didn't want to be alone, that's all I knew. So I stayed at Alaina's house and we sat up on her balcony until almost 6am just staring off into the dark and occasionally talking. I just kept repeating, "I can't believe this happened. It just can't be real". Alaina would nod and offer a few words. But mostly we just sat in silence. Without making it to dramatic (which I realize I'm not doing a good job at) the history to that point of our friendship allowed for that night. I didn't need someone that asked me a million questions about the night, I didn't need someone that would cry and moan about what happened. I needed that relative silence. That safety of knowing that I didn't have to say anything and still be completely understood.
Alaina moved back to Youngstown, I moved to Bowling Green and then Cincinnati in the years that followed. Eventually, (2005 maybe?) she moved to Cincinnati too. It was sometimes hard to readjust to seeing each other so much again. For several years it had been weekends here and there and phone calls. We had a falling out for awhile, during which time I missed her tremendously. But we made up, as friends do when they love each other deeply.
A little over a week ago we took a road trip that kept me up for 23 1/2 hours and her well over 30. We drove 9 hours together that day and didn't get sick of each other once (at least I didn't)
Alaina and I have been together make ups and break ups, coming outs and going outs, fights and making up. Much like my friendship with Nicole Alaina has my history. Other than my sister and Nicole, Alaina is my oldest friend. She has taught me that deep conversations can happen without saying a word. My friendship with her has taught me the power of a look and a raised eyebrow at just the right moment can dissolve a person into giggles. I learned that a friend silently sitting beside you, going through the grief, the drama, the heartache, can speak louder than a million platitudes. Because that's who Alaina is to me. She is my history keeper and sharer. She understands that even though I talk a lot, there is room for necessary silence. In that silence we often hear each other speak clearly and we understand. Maybe there was something to us trying to read each others minds back at YSU, because the history between us has allowed for that to happen.