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I hope you have this

I have known my friend Laurie for twenty years. We met at work and while we were instantly friendly, we weren’t instantly friends. You see, we are very different her and I, and on the face of it many people might wonder, how are we friends at all?

Laurie lives where she grew up. She is married to her high school boyfriend, and she’s happiest hanging out with her family and her many friends she’s had for years. Laurie could be described as bubbly, energetic, and outgoing. She is an extrovert and so her energy comes from being with others. She maintains relationships with a ferocity that makes my head hurt, which is no small feat because a lot of people want her in their lives.

I couldn’t wait to move away and did so the first chance I got. I have lived in four different cities now where I knew at most one person. I could be described as serious, intense, and reserved. I am a definite introvert and so my energy comes from solitude. I have only a few strong ties and I maintain them with great effort and sometimes difficulty.

Laurie is someone who has bought a blow up slide for her backyard barbecue and not at all ironically attended a New Kids on the Block reunion concert in a homemade T-shirt and side ponytail. I am more inclined to enjoy a conversation about Game of Thrones with her physicist husband or a quiet book at home, and I flat out refused to wear the reindeer antler headband she tried to force on me at work.

Laurie likes upbeat dance and pop music; I usually prefer Americana’s more mellow vibe. Laurie gets bored and anxious if she doesn’t have somewhere to go, something to do, someone to meet; I spend the weekend without leaving my condo if I’ve had too much stimulation throughout the week. We never like the same clothes or think the same men are attractive; she prefers a relaxing beach vacation and I need activity and variety.

But Laurie is also incredibly astute and she has an impressive ability to intuitively understand people. She is so clever about the way she sees the world and she can see me as no one else in my life can. We have a connection that I don’t have with anyone else; I can’t bullshit her even though I’ve tried.

She is sympathetic without being soft and she is honest while still being kind. She’ll never let you off the hook for being a jerk, but she will stick by you and graciously accept your apology. She is infinitely loyal and the biggest cheerleader for those she believes in; I consider myself supremely lucky to be one of those.

She may or may not agree with that given the many, many stories of mine she’s had to endure over the years (usually with a couple of bottles, ahem, I mean glasses of wine in our not so distant past), but she always listens thoughtfully and has something insightful to add.

She is also just fun. She makes me laugh. When we are together it’s like we haven’t been apart, and I am able to drop - or more accurately, am forced to drop - that serious, intense, and reserved exterior and relax a little, which is something I don’t do easily. But Laurie just wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can’t imagine what these last twenty years would have looked like without her.

And while I hope my wordy answer to the question of how we are friends has managed to do it justice, and that I have been able to convey the depth of my love and respect for Laurie, I still think maybe my brother said it best with his more pithy description: she is good people.

Happy birthday my friend! I wish you the best year ahead.

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