So I've written about Tina a real whole lot on my blog. But really, outside of my family, there are few people who have had so profound an impact on my life as her.
I met Tina when I was going into high school. I was new to the school district, having gone to a private school in a different district through eighth grade. I was nervous about going there (moving from a class of about 8 people into anything even remotely bigger than that seemed terrifying), but was in band and figured I'd meet some people that way.
I'm sure I met Tina during band camp, but didn't really talk to her much/at all. I stuck mostly with my section of saxophone players and didn't really venture beyond that into the brass section. But once school proper started, I found that she was in most of my classes. Our schedules were almost identical and we ended up being in lunch together (unlike most of the other people who ended up in our core group of friends). I'm pretty sure that's where our friendship really cemented. By the end of the first month of school (probably sooner, but that was a very, very long time ago), we were pretty tight.
The number of amazing memories I have with Tina are far too many to count. I truly don't think that there is a single memory from high school that doesn't include her in some fashion. From our freshman biology class to our senior english class, we spent most of our time together. We always had very similar schedules, usually only having one or two periods apart a year. And that doesn't count the time spent in band.
Some quick memories (these are more for me than for anyone else -- sorry!): snowball fight in the parking lot of the school after a basketball game waiting for a parent to pick us up; fake birthdays; sneaking in to see Pet Sematary on prom night (what did we tell our parents we were seeing?); hunting down someone with a video camera at Epcot to record us playing in the water; busting up our old-timey headphones to share a listen to Cosmic Thing in the auditorium; throwing kittens across the family room in her house; sled riding on our "fake" senior skip day.
I also remember sitting on her parents' deck on a July afternoon 13 years ago when she became the bravest person I know. She was recovering from a climbing accident that left her body broken and bruised and that resulted in the death of the person closest to her. In the midst of that, she took a chance on an old friend and came out to me. I knew gay people, even had some gay friends, but Tina was my best friend. And she shattered everything I knew about what it is to be a gay Christian. She didn't have to go out on that limb. She didn't have to be vulnerable. She didn't have to risk rejection in the midst of her pain. But she showed unbelievable courage and trusted me.
And she has shown that in the years following. While we share a finely tuned sense of humor (which you can read all about in this post), but our lives are very different. I sometimes marvel that we have remained friends over the years. But honestly, I think our differences are what have bound us together. She has shown me so much about how narrow my world view can be. She has taught me how to talk to people with whom I disagree in a more positive way. She has encouraged me to step outside of myself and hopefully be a bit braver as well. As I said at the beginning, she has absolutely shaped me into the woman that I am today in more profound ways than I can express.
I'm pretty stingy with who gets my "I love you's." I think it's a powerful phrase and shouldn't be tossed out to just anyone. My family hears it liberally, but outside of them, I don't say it to many people.
Tina, I love you. I love your honesty. I love your independence. I love your smile. I love your storytelling. I love your imagination. I love your humor.
You're one of my greatest treasures. I love you.