Some things never would be
But we know now that no matter how far we traveled on our own separate paths…
Somehow we would always find out way back to each other.
And with that, we could get through anything.
To us. Who we were, and who we are. And who we’ll be.
To the pants.
And the sisterhood.
And this moment, and the rest of our lives.
Together and apart.
~Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants~
Sisters touch your heart in ways no other could. Sisters share… their hopes, their fears, their love, everything they have. ~Carrie Bagwell
The name Alisha frequently appears on this blog and her notes & profile pic tend to be all over my Facebook wall- especially right now. But very few people know exactly who this remarkable, stunning lady is; and hardly anyone knows the entire Story of Us. Well, until now.
Ladies & Gentlemen, it is my honor to tell you exactly how the Sisterhood of Alisha Thomas and Kristen Medica began a little over a year ago, and how since then we have gone from Confidantes to Pen Pals to (Facebook) Friends to Sisters. As all stories tend to be told, let me start at the very beginning…
In January 2010, I enrolled in an online class through my alma mater, Ohio University, as a way to complete the pre-requisites for the Child Life certification. So after my New Year’s guests left town on Sunday, January 3rd, I found myself mentally preparing for my first day (back) of school. Human Relations ECED 410, here I come!
Like any first week’s assignment, we spent time getting to know our classmates by sharing a few details about ourselves. Typically this is the worst assignment ever when you’re in a classroom and have to say something unique about yourself (which of course never applied to me). However, being 4-years out of college and in an online format, I found myself enjoying this activity- especially hearing others’ stories and learning about their backgrounds. And on top of that, our Professor Tom Shostak appeared to be incredible. I think I’m really going to like this class.
On a fateful day in late January/early February, a friendship was born. As I signed into Blackboard after work, I found myself touched by the courageous words written by Alisha Thomas as she admitted to her struggle with anxiety. Being something that I knew a little too well, I (believe I) found myself writing a response applauding her for speaking out and admitting my own battle with those pain-strickening troubles. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure if she’d respond but I knew I had to reach out to her.
She responded, graciously, which marked our first electronic communication. The first of many. For a few weeks we exchanged Discussion Board comments and emails sharing our struggles with anxiety and life stories. Through daily emails a friendship began as we confided in one another about fears, doubts, anxieties, insecurities, dreams, wishes, crushes, etc. We found comfort in sharing our thoughts and the other’s responses of wisdom and encouragement. Looking back, in only a few weeks Alisha became the younger sister I always wanted.
“We should become Pen Pals,” Alisha wrote in one of her emails. Always wanting a Pen Pal, I was thrilled. “Yes! Absolutely!” can be my assumed responses.
On February 22nd, exactly one year ago today, I wrote the very first entry in the Pen Pal Book. (Obviously pictured on the right.) She then, Alisha and I have shipped the book back-and-forth from Athens, Ohio (her) and Chicago, IL (me) every few weeks/months. We fill the pages with our daily activities and life stories- good days, bad days, past experiences, lifelong dreams, crushes, heartbreak, and, of course, struggles with anxiety. (Note: Fortunately anxiety takes up less space in the book as time goes on.) We share favorite quotes and songs and suggest novels & movies for the other.
And in the last few months, we’ve allowed others to share in our love for the Pen Pal Book. Alisha’s brother, Jakob, commonly leaves his mark on the pages in the form of drawings and little notes. I love seeing what Jakob shares with me! My dear friend, Darlene, also shared in our joy by writing in the infamous book when I visited her & Paul, last summer. (Note: Like Alisha, my friendship/sisterhood with Darlene began electronically and I corresponded with her for 1.5 years before our long-awaited meet-up.)
Besides the Pen Pal Book, Alisha and I inevitably befriended one another on Facebook- which put faces to our names and email addresses. And that, my friends, is how our friendship really began. While we anxiously looked forward to receiving the Pen Pal Book from the other, we learned that daily communication was necessary too. Not only did we enjoy Facebook stalking one another’s current crushes (lol), but through Facebook is how I began my love affair with Alisha’s family: Her 10-year old brother, Jakob, and mother, Kelly. It really didn’t take long before I started seeing them as my family. 🙂
A few months ago I had the idea that I was going to surprise Alisha and “meet her” at her upcoming graduation in June 2011. But yeah, I couldn’t keep a secret from my Sis and so I mentioned my plan to her. It is through that she came up with the Best. Idea. Ever. SIBS WEEKEND!! So this past weekend, I FINALLY ventured back to Athens, OH to ‘meet’ my extended family: Alisha, Jakob, and Kelly.
Words really cannot express just how A*MAY*ZING this past weekend was. As I’ve put been putting it: I have never weekend had a time filled with so many smiles, laughs, and pure joy & contentment. It was truly the most PERFECT (my favorite place ever) with Alisha and her family, it was exactly what I could have ever wanted it to be. From playing Wii and watching YouTube videos with Jakob to finally experiencing Athens with Alisha, it was simply magical. Sure, it wasn’t one of those typical OU weekends- and actually there was no alcohol involved for me- but that’s what made it so fantastic- besides the company of course. It was exactly how this 27-year old OU alum needed to visit her former college campus. After all, as one wise alum once told me as an undergrad, “Athens is about what it is because of the people.” I couldn’t agree more.
Another beautiful part of this weekend was reconnecting with my former professor/confidante/mentor, Linda. Interesting enough, I actually believe that Linda played a large part in my initial reach out to Alisha. See, Linda was a professor of mine during Spring Quarter of my senior year. (aka The Season for Panic Attacks) I just remember receiving an email from Linda after class one day asking me how I was doing- hinting at the fact that she noticed that I didn’t seem like myself- and encouraging me to open up more in class and share the thoughts that seemed to be running through my mind.
To make a long story short, Linda’s kind-hearted reaching out made me confide in her about the uneasiness I had been feeling, beginning our own weeks-worth exchange of emails. I found myself opening up to her more than I had ever done with anyone- well maybe besides Libby, Brandon, and Jenni- let alone someone you barely knew me outside of the classroom setting. Still, her genuiness shined through during class and in her emails and I found it impossible not to let her in. Since then, which was five years ago, I have always had the highest regards for Linda. So much so that within those first few weeks of correspondence with Alisha I insisted that she take one of Linda’s classes before graduation. Fortunately, she’s enrolled in her YAL course next quarter- spring quarter of her senior year just like me!
Alisha and I were so honored to share the Pen Pal Book with Linda and include her into our Sibs Weekend afternoon. She is truly an incredible woman and I feel blessed to have her in my life as a friend and mentor.
Like all good things Sibs Weekend found itself coming to an end, but not before a trip to Columbus (which is where I had to catch my bus later that night). While the sadness of the inevitable goodbyes began playing in our minds, we knew we had to make the best of our remaining time together. We loaded ourselves in the car and headed to one of my favorite places in Ohio: Easton. First Stop: Build-A-Bear.
So true story: For years I have told my brother that IF (huge IF) I ever have a boyfriend, Nicky should tell him to build me a bear. Call me crazy (because I am), but I have always wanted one. I mean I’ve built many bears (and a bunny) in my day, but never one for myself… until Sunday, February 20, 2011 that is. The best part is that this was totally Alisha’s idea! Yep, we are definitely meant to be sisters!
Surrounded by a sea of children and parents my age, the four of us piled into Build-A-Bear to create our little sidekicks. I know, we are totally adorable! We definitely took way to long to decide on our choices, but eventually we chose the following: Alisha- a puppy named Lynn (my middle name); Kelly- (the same) puppy named Sammy; Jakob- a monkey named Justin (yes, as in Justin Bieber); and me- a bear (decided upon by my boy Jakob) named Lauren (Alisha’s middle name). And now for the hard part….choosing outfits. Seriously, I have an easier time choosing clothes for myself! Anyways, we finally made our decisions with my little Lauren dressed to the 9’s in a true Ohio-lovin’ outfit: Ohio University tee underneath a red & white (for Ohio State) Cheerios outfit (Alisha loves Glee), complete with red & white (OSU) and green (OU) ear bows AND…brown cowgirl boots. Love Love Love. After acting like we were kids again, Jakob and I let the girls shop in Forever XXI while we sought out fun in the photo booth. (I ♥ him so much!) But of course we had to take Alisha back for some photo booth fun with us afterwards. Note: I really think that IF I ever get married, there has to be a photo booth there….even if it means I must have my reception at Chuc E Cheese…or, better yet, Easton since we know it has one.
After feeding our hungry bellies and indulging in many more laughs, we all knew that our time together was dwindling. As Alisha drove downtown, we started expressing our I am going to miss you’s and planning on next visits. After pointing out my old apartment, we pulled into a spot on High Street nearby MoJoe Lounge (my hangout spot until the bus arrived). Led by Jakob, my family insisted on walking me into the coffeeshop/bar, which I finally gave into. Shortly after, the tears began building up in our eyes s the I love you’s were exchanged. And my poor Jakob was so sad that it made me cry. “You know that you are a little brother to me, Jakob. I will always be here for you,” is all that I can remember saying as the sadness kicked in full force. I would have given anything to have been able to go back to Athens with them, but unfortunately the Reality of Big Girl World is that you cannot always do what you want to do. So with tears in my eyes, I said my goodbyes and more I love you’s with my family.
I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, and I am missing them terribly even two days later. Still, I know that they will be in my life forever and I cannot wait to see them in Pittsburgh on Easter weekend when they get to meet the rest of my family. And then, more fun in Athens for Alisha’s Birthday/ Mom’s Weekend in early May. I cannot wait to see them again! Hopefully I can beat Jakob at Wii next time.
*** Let this Story of Alisha and Me remind you that you never know where, when, and how you’ll meet your next best friend/ soul sister. ***
This post is dedicated to the A*MAY*ZING Alisha Thomas. My life is so much better with you in it and I honestly cannot remember what it was like without you and your family. I will always be here for you and believe in your more than you probably believe in yourself. Sis, I love you! XOXO ~K