I have this Bestie… She’s the absolute best of the Besties. She’s the Louise to my Thelma. The Lucy to my Ethel. The Bert to my Ernie.  She completes me. Not in the Tom Cruise/Renee Zellweger kind of way. Tom Cruise makes me cringe and my Bestie LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Kenny Chesney. She never would’ve left him after a mere six months of marriage. She would’ve made that matrimony work, I’m certain. Nope. Definitely not Cruise and Zellweger kind of “completes me.” More like coconut and cream makes the complete and perfect pie kind of way (which just so happens to be her favorite). I’m the coconut. Flaky and scattered. She’s the cream. Flawless. Her skin is flawless. Her character is flawless. Her grammar is flawless. I’ve never seen her make a mistake. She is on point. She is on fleek. And SHE would never, ever, never ever use a cliché. She’s that flawless.

She is my better half. The Yin to my Yang, the sweet to my sour, the Felix to my Oscar. The Jesus to my John the Baptist. As in I’m the crazy one with the locusts’ legs snagged in my teeth and my hair all cattywampus. And she is perfection incarnate. Her hair is never out of place — could be because she shaved it when her mom was battling cancer – because she’s that flawless and that perfect. I’m telling you, she’s a saint. Her smile is beatific. It can work a room like an epiphany, showing everyone in it their worth and their potential. She sparks. She galvanizes. She emboldens. She is the Queen of Inspiration.

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She has taught me how to teach. Without her, I wouldn’t be half the educator I am. She focuses me. She drives me. She writes my rubrics for me. You see, I have a very big weakness. I love ideas. I love concepts and creative outlets and projects that glitter and gleam. And she does too. She sees the big, conceptual picture, too — but she also sees the bottom line. She grounds me. Without her, I would be a nebulous cloud of creative ca-ca. But she reigns me in and funnels my creativity into legitimate, effective, measurable methods of teaching. She’s detail-oriented and fundamentals-focused and together, we plan and coordinate units like gangbusters.

Our classrooms are across the hall from each other and have been for the last thirteen years. Even though we are opposites, we have one common denominator: love for our students. We believe building relationships builds success. Learn your students – who they are, what makes them tick — and they’ll learn the curriculum. Stay motivated and they will too. And nothing motivates me more than my Bestie. She’s the Queen of the Go-Getters.

Without my Bestie, I would only be half the mother I am today. No lie. Like, literally half my children wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have married Mike and I wouldn’t have had my beautiful twin boys. She orchestrated that. She took it upon herself to caulk up my cracks and teach me to trust love again. She watched Mike and me chat over tuna fish sandwiches and kimchi in the break room at lunch and decided that my faulty connections and his crooked wires could be a thing. A real, bonafide, working thing — full of electricity and light.

You see, despite my dreamy, visionary nature, I never saw Mike’s and my potential. But my Bestie did. She saw a future in an instant – a jaeger-soaked, mistletoe-marked instant – and she pushed me toward my ultimate Carpe Diem. My moment of a lifetime that spun into a postmodern family of a lifetime. And what did I manage to do for her in return? On that most magical of semester-ending, happily-ever-after, holiday nights, what did I do for her? I got her drunk. Fall-over-the-sofa-in-a-riotous-splatter-of-giggles drunk. For the first time in her life drunk. Did I mention I’m the bad influence in this relationship? She comes out on the short end of our friendship stick every time. Still, she sticks with it (pun intended) because she’s the better person. I’m telling you, she’s absolutely perfect.

And without my Bestie, my life wouldn’t be half as amazing. It just wouldn’t. We share secrets and laughs… and the most ridiculous homecoming costumes in the history of the high school homecomings. There is nobody else on this earth who makes me act a fool quite like her. Nobody. Throughout our years in the hallowed halls of Woodland High, we have dressed as Gangsta rappers, Oompa Loompas, Lady Gaga, Hungry Hippos, dinosaurs, ninja turtles, the Kool Aid Man… I’ve even been the Wicked Queen to her Magic Mirror (I told you I was the bad influence…). We are the silliest and the stupidest and the absolute awesomest when we’re together. We go on road trips together and have girls’ nights together and sing karaoke and eat double doozies and watch football together.  We talk books and husbands and children and politics and obscenities together. Nobody can conjugate, triangulate and cross pollinate cuss words like we can. We are profanity in motion. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer would toast our talents. (My Bestie never cussed before me, either.  Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the worst influence of them all…

Now my Bestie has been there for me for such a long time. She was there to teach my daughters, and she was there to help me birth my boys. She has helped me solder my past and helped me forge my future. She has taught me to wield love every second of every minute of the present. She is perfection. I wish there were some way that I could pay her back for all her lessons, all the blessings she has shared. It is an impossible task.

But today, on my Bestie’s birthday – her first birthday without her beloved mother, the mother who granted her all her glorious ways of loving and teaching and sharing and laughing and being – I just want to tell her how very much I love and appreciate her. How much I know she’s hurting. How much I know she misses her mom. And how much I wish I could ease her pain.

To my Bestie: with your birth, your mom gave the world the kindest, warmest, most luminous and learned soul I’ve ever known. You brighten our planet with your smile and with your love. You do your mother proud with each soul that you touch. And you touch so many. Mine is simply one among them all. But you… you are one in a million. I love you, my Bestie, the Queen of my heart.

Happy Birthday.

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