I stalked her via the Internet until she became my friend. (Kidding … or am I?)
As an adult I’ve always had a hard time making friends. I met my core group of friends when we were nine and twenty-three years later, I still consider them my best friends. I made a handful of friends in college and figured I was all set.
Sometime around 2008 I started a temp job and during my down time was reading Jen Lacaster’s Bitter Is The New Black. After cry-laughing my way through the book I went to Jen's blog and checked out her blogroll - yes, this was back when people had blogrolls - and found a blog called MooshInIndy. The name caught my eye, because a) I wondered what a moosh was (her daughter's nickname) and b) why it was in my hometown of Indianapolis. So I proceeded to spend far too much time reading her archives before I decided Casey and I should be friends. She was funny (me too!), she loved to write (me too!), and she loved photography (hey, me too!)
I sent a few awkward emails to her trying not to try too hard. I think I even told her where to find cheap gas once (I’m not proud of that). I commented on her blog here and there and kept an eye open when I was out in public (it’s less stalkery than it sounds) and when a local blogger organized a cupcake crawl around the state, Casey and I finally met. (Knowing she was going and hoping we might run into each other may have been the only reason I willingly put myself in a room full of virtual strangers.)
A month or two later, we had our first official friend date which put us in the car alone for three hours en route to see Jen Lancaster speak about her new book. Let me tell you, being in the car with someone new for more than an hour is a sink or swim moment. Thankfully, we swam. As I backed out of her driveway, she broke the ice with, "I think a friend of mine is dealing with depression but won't talk about it." There was no warm-up; no lead in. She just started talking about a topic I've struggled with since I was sixteen, a disease that Casey is all-too-familiar with. That ice breaker was enough to jar me out of any introverted weirdness I could already feel myself retreating into.
After that, I don't remember what else we talked about on that car ride; I just remember being bone-deep grateful that it wasn't going to be awkward. At dinner that night at Chipotle, we decided then and there that there needed to be a second date. From there, we had a third date, then a fourth, and then I spent an inordinate amount of time on her couches. (In my defense she has really good couches.) Our friendship progressed very quickly from, "Hey, I read this chick's blog and think she's great," to, "This is my best friend Casey and she's way better than I thought."
I’ve always said Casey got me at a really bad time in my life. I was unemployed, laid off for the first time and not handling it well. Plus, I wasn’t looking for friends. I had friends, thanks. But almost six years later I can’t imagine my life without her. She fills spaces and parts of me I didn’t know I need filled. She believes in me and encourages me in anything I've ever done. Her youngest daughter is quite possibly my soulmate. I have a tattoo of our word (an autocorrect mishap) for love on my arm. Her husband has come to terms with the fact (or so he says) that she and I snuggle on the couch if I’m over. She was the first friend that knew what I meant when I said I was depressed. We joke that she married the male version of me and I need to marry the male version of her. Y'all, if I could marry her but only taller, bearded, and male? I'd be the most mentally stable person on the planet.
I've grown up with many of my friends. I’ve watched them get married, have kids, and move on. I don’t begrudge them their happiness, but it can be a little lonely sometimes. I never had any of that with Casey. I met her when she was married with kids so I've never “lost” her the way it felt I did sometimes with my older friends.
If you would have asked me six years ago if I thought I’d meet my best friend on the Internet and that she’d not only be everything I needed in a friend at that time of my life, but that’d she’d teach me about love and friendship and compassion, I’d have said you were crazy. She's one of the most generous people I've ever met. Generous with things (I'm an only child who doesn't share well, I needed to learn), generous with her time, and generous with her heart.
This past year, I thought she was moving and having to say goodbye to her was one of the hardest things ever I've had to do. Ultimately and THANKFULLY, she moved back home but during those few weeks she was 1,000 miles away, not having her just a drive away (which already feels way too far) felt devastating. It’s one of those friendships where I’m getting so much out of it I can’t imagine what she’s receiving. But I came to terms awhile ago that I don’t care anymore. She’s in it, I’m in it and I’m a better person for it.
Photo: Casey Mullins
Photo: Casey Mullins