I don't actually remember the first time I met Nicole. I know it was in 6th grade, because we were inseparable the summer between 6th and 7th grade. That was my green tank top and Camp Wanake red sweatshirt summer. It was the summer of Josh and hiding behind the soda machines at the old BP while spying on her brother and Josh. We built blanket tents in the basement using all of her grandmas clothes pins and playing Nintendo NES for hours on end. That also might have been the summer of Nicole's first kiss, I'm a little confused on the time line, but perfectly clear on the cheese factor. "Just look at the stars Nicole, just look at the stars" This was all circa 1991, we were 11.
That summer before 7th grade we spend long hours in my parents pool and trekking by bike to get some ice cream. We would camp in her front yard and she would make me sleep on the road side of the tent...because, if a car ran off the road in the night it might hit me and stop before it got to her. Real nice Nicole, real nice!
Sometime in this time frame we had a sleepover at her friend Christina's house, Christina lived in my old friend Tara's house. We stayed in a pop up camper in the backyard. That night was the only night until 2003 that I told someone I wanted to kill myself. We were playing truth or dare as young girls will and I was dared to tell my deepest secret. So I told them. I don't remember what Christina said, but Nicole told me not to because it was dumb and she didn't want me to.
In 7th grade at some point Nicole and I got in a fight. She said I was embarrassing her and she wished I just would go away. So I did. Nicole and I didn't really talk that much at the end of 7th grade and most of the summer after.
Sometime towards the end of that summer we just started hanging out again. I can't really remember what happened or why, but we were just back to hanging out and being friends.
We had our ups and downs, Nicole wrote me a few notes that had the opening sentence "I don't mean to be a bitch but...". I prioritized poorly between boyfriends and friends and we were both caught up in the drama that is being a teenage girl.
We continued on much like this through high school and college. We both had a rough time in college, mine was just reflecting in my grades more than hers (she always was a smarty pants...the kind that thinks she failed a test and she really got a 98%....lucky). There were so many nights that we would stay on the phone for hours at a time just listening to each other breathe, or cry. We talked through dropping out of college with each other and when we both moved home we hung out with each other trying to figure out what exactly we should do with ourselves now.
In 2000 when my friend was killed Nicole showed up at Alaina's house early in the morning and was there when I woke up and was the person I asked if it really happened. She drove me home to my house so I could get showered. She drove me back to my friends house and hung out there for awhile with me.
When I would leave my friends house each day I would call her and make her come be with me at my parents house. I didn't cry for several days, but the day I finally broke I drove to Nicole's house and collapsed on her sofa.
Nicole was the person that I told, in a bar on Put-In-Bay, that I wanted to marry John and I didn't really want to crawl around the bars anymore. She was also the first person I called in 2002 when John and I broke up. She drove up to Bowling Green and stayed in my apartment with me. She once again spent hours on the phone listening to me breathe and cry and just helped me talk through what this all meant now.
Nicole came to church when I got baptized in September 2003. Cedar Creek had put up two giant crosses and put up our printed testimonies on them. After Nicole read mine she cried and we hugged and it was so amazing to be able to share that day with her. On the way down the stairs once I changed after being dunked I fell down the stairs. My right butt cheek was black it was so bruised. For a few weeks after that Nicole didn't believe that my butt hurt as bad as it did, and she kept hitting it telling me that I was a wuss. So I totally mooned her. After which she believed me... :-)
Nicole helped me move to Cincinnati, and then move 4 times in 4 years. We lifted the heaviest and longest 1970s sofa up some apartment stairs, and we felt totally bad ass doing it. Nicole is still in Clyde where we grew up, working towards her pharmaceutical degree (is it 2011 yet?). We just got to hang out at Soak City last weekend with our nephews and my nieces. At one point her nephew Matthew was talking to my nephew Matthew and her Matthew said, "I think that we're cousins". That's pretty indicative of Nicole and I's relationship. We might as well be related, we can't shake each other.
Like any good friendship we've had some crazy ups and downs. We've yelled at each other and cried on each others shoulders. We've laughed until we've cried (and Nicole has laughed so hard she's fallen off my bed and gotten stuck in the crack). We've lived life together. We've been through deaths of grandparents, marriages of siblings and she was with me during the family drama years around 2004-2005. She sat next to me at the farm auction and we reminisced about the time we drove my mom's dad's Rascalesque cart into a ditch on a way back farm lane.
My friendship with Nicole has taught me the importance of sticking with friendships. We have been friends for 19 years and just know each others history. Nicole is one of the handful of people that I'm still very close to that knew me before and after my conversion. She's seen me do all sorts of dumb things and she still loves me (and vice versa). She has taught me that while it can be easy to take for granted that type of friendship, you should work to never do that. I can't imagine a time when Nicole and I won't be friends, when we won't be family. Because other than a pesky difference in biology for all intents and purposes she is my sister too.