My first memory of Stephanie is of just her head. I was working in the call center for a bank and she was in the processing department. I had just applied and been accepted for a position in her department correcting teller errors. It's all very romantic.
She had heard that I accepted and on her way past my desk she stuck her head in the hall and grinned this huge maniacal grin and waved what I would later know as her "I'm super dee duperee excited" wave. This was in 2001.
After I started in the department she and I decided to hang out. We went to Old Navy and rented the 1st Godfather video. Upon viewing the gloriosity that was the Godfather 1 we knew that we must immediately arrange for two more outings to watch the others. This also began the torrential downpour of our inside jokes.
(Paperclip chain, chap stick in the door, the Chihuahua laugh, running to the kitchen, me reading aloud incessantly)

Stephanie and I met at a time that I had decided I was full up on friends. I had gone through a lot of drama (and was still in the throes of it) with some friends and I was pretty much done with new friends. So I made a very dramatic declaration that I was "letting her in". Oh it was so early twenties dramatic!
Stephanie was a Christian and I was a very angry, well...non-Christian. She would spring Jesus at me and at the time it felt like kung fu baptism by fire.

John and I broke up February 2002 after Stephanie and I became friends. After I talked my dad out of fire bombing something I called Nicole, then I called Stephanie. The three of us stayed up at my apartment that night while I cried and cried and cried. Stephanie brought me chocolate chip bits and she and Nicole tag teamed to make me laugh. John was supposed to move in with me a few months later, that was clearly not going to happen. So a few weeks later I asked Stephanie if she would move in instead. She agreed, and to date, she is the best roomie I ever had.
When God told me to move to Cincinnati, I hesitated because of how much I loved living with Stephanie. I've been trying to talk her into moving here since I did.

It was an absolute blast living with Stephanie, we worked together too for the first year. You would think we'd have gotten sick of each other but we didn't not once. All of the things I remember from that time would seem so inconsequential to most. The way she ate ice cream out of a juice glass, the chocolate chips, the saran wrap on the head, an army of penguins, "knitting", all the running and the eating, chihuahua laughing, no touching days, streaking to the kitchen, complete silence during ALIAS (and the way she cried when Vaughn and Sydney first kissed), Mint Julep and Schmookie, "I'm not a magician" and so on and so forth. We had parties, one of which we both went to bed before it was over. It is one of my favorite years ever.

I got saved in February 2003, but didn't tell her until March because I was afraid my salvation would rub off. She was totally geeked. As soon as I got saved God settled right down to business and worked on my grudge holding and killing rage issues.
Because even though I loved that time with Stephanie I was a very angry and sad girl. I was antagonistic and contrary and I got offended very very easily.
It was almost my birthday 2003. Something awful happened. What happened isn't part of my story, but it was and is part of Stephanie's. The angry sad girl in me wanted to make it about me. She wanted me to be angry and no longer speak to Stephanie. But not so coincidentally almost 6 months earlier God had started working on me about my anger, grudge holding, and absolute refusal to forgive.
A lot of stuff went down during this time, but one thing happened. I heard God speak clearly for the first time ever. He told me that no matter what I was to forgive Stephanie and stick by her unconditionally. Pretty common theme for God I suppose, but a completely uncommon theme for me.
So we worked through it, I loved her. Period.
Six months later, while sitting at the computer desk checking my email I heard a whisper, "Move to Cincinnati". I looked around. I looked back at the computer. "Move to Cincinnati" I knew it was God, no one had to tell me. I said no. I needed to stay. I wanted to stay. I had a life there, a church that I loved. I had friends, I had Stephanie. But if you know God, you know that he is very persistent.
Stephanie and I found a sub-letter for our apartment, because we both needed to be out of there for a plethora of reasons. We moved back in with our parents, who conveniently lived just a few blocks from each other.
But nothing has ever been the same as the joy of knowing that when I came home from work Stephanie might be there; the joy of knowing that while I was "knitting" in the chair she might walk into the room with her sweats hiked up to her chest and pillows in the backside and ask me, "Does this make my butt look long?"
Sitting here now, all these years later, as happy and fulfilled as I am now; there is still a part of me that is so sad that I don't live with Stephanie anymore and get to see her every day.

Stephanie and I live far apart now and we both have very busy lives. But when I see her, it's so fun and amazing. Even though she won't let me hook ears with her it's a blast.
I learned how to love deeply with Stephanie. Love deeply another human being without condition. I learned how to forgive and how to move past the sad and angry girl whenever I wanted to. It would be a long time coming for me to completely leave the sad angry girl behind, but with Stephanie I learned to pick and choose my moments and keep myself a little more under control. I learned about being transparent to another human being, and how that is more freeing than constricting and more loving than controlling. I learned to laugh in spite of myself and at myself.
I love Stephanie very much, the only thing I would change about her is that she would realize what an absolutely beautiful and amazing person she is.


Pete said...

I've met Stephanie, but have never really heard some of these stories! Sounds like a great roommate!

I have some big shoes to fill. lol.

jake - aka the comment novelist said...

Wowza. That was fantastic!

You're so good at pulling lessons out of everyday life. You must teach me how to do that!

Katie Hauck said...

What is "knitting" and why is it in quotations?