My best friend Bridget

I’ve never met anyone like my best friend Bridget, and I know I never will.

We knew of the other in middle school, but it was the summer before going into high school when we got to truly know each other. We had both signed up for cross country, which meant attending summer practices before the school year started.

We were the only freshman girls who signed up for cross country.

And so we were paired together - and we stayed paired together ever since. We would run our assigned milage together on summer evenings through the local park, running up and down woodchip covered hills and asking each other thousands of Would You Rather questions.

Would you rather have a permanent unibrow, or a tiny booger that never went away? I would ask her during the first mile.

Would you rather date Coach Mooney or Coach Karch? She would ask me wickedly during the second mile, and we would laugh hysterically and ping each other with the best and worst of hypothetical situations.

Soon enough we had our first sleepover - every girl’s ritual into close friendship.

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“I think I’m in love with Ian,” I confessed to her that night.

“Ian Richardson? The blonde senior?” she asked. “We have to give him a nickname”.

And so began our tradition of giving everyone in our life a nickname, and creating our own language (that eventually would teeter between cute and annoying, depending on who you asked).

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“Okay, he’s fast…he’s the best on the team”
”And he’s got really skinny legs, he’s a super skinny guy”
”Oh my gosh, yeah, but I mean he’s still cute! I kind of like it for some reason”
”They’re so skinny Shannon, they’re like chicken legs”
”Skinny like a prostitute!”
”Prostitutes get paid to do…dirty work hahaha”
”Dirty work!”

And so Ian died and Dirty Work was born. Some of our nickname creations made logical sense, and sometimes they sprung up out of nowhere. To this day, we still don’t know how we came up with the nickname “Posh” for one of the cute boys on varsity.

Over time, I realized why Bridget and I were growing so close, so fast. I came up with the weird ideas, the outlandish concepts and gross suggestions, and Bridget was the first person in my life to indulge me and come along enthusiastically for the ride, offering her own opinion on the madness that I had never considered before. We fed off of each other, our friendship was a car that ran without gas.

The most fitting example is when we decided to watch Two Girls One Cup together. We had heard about it from kids in high school as this gross, sexual, pooping video, and of course - we were intrigued enough by the description alone to want to watch it. We vowed that we would both watch it together, and nervously made a ‘last meal’ of pasta at my house before we turned it on.

Thus, my partner in crime was born.

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Through high school we ran cross country together, winter track, spring track, and had similar classes. We eventually had a nickname for everyone we interacted with, which led to questions from my parents such as, “who is Smoked Salmon, and why do you have a crush on him? What is a Smoked Salmon?”

Soon, we had our first boyfriends. We gave each other a play-by-play of our first kiss, shared Google Search knowledge on information about making out, and would rush to each other in the hallway with whispers of “Iron just asked me out! Will you help me pick out an outfit?”

Our cross country and track team was led by an incredibly intense (and honestly, insane and douchey) coach who took the high school sport way too seriously. Other friends of ours would lean into the rhetoric and start to train harder and stretch longer after practice. Bridget and I would secretly make shortcuts in our runs, or find hidden trails where we could stop running and instead walk and gossip, away from the eyes of our coaches. It was our first experience of, as we call it, ‘not drinking the kool aid’.

Soon it was our senior year of high school, and Bridget and I carpooled together to and from school. We would pick each other up every week, and cycle through the same radio channels as we chatted about colleges we were applying to, our relationships with our boyfriends, and as always, more Would You Rather questions. I started every day excited to see her, to catch up on the 10 hours we had spent apart.

Graduation came, and she left for Wake Forest and I left for Rice. It’s never been hard saying goodbye to Bridget for periods of time. Just as it’s never been hard seeing her again, and picking up right where we left off. We promised to keep in touch, and left for our freshman year of college.

This was a time in my life before I knew that eyebrows were something you could control and maintain

This was a time in my life before I knew that eyebrows were something you could control and maintain

In college we both had our first serious relationships with boyfriends. Our advice on making out turned to advice on sex and love. And when we got together over breaks, we picked up where we started. Getting in her car, driving to Dunkin Donuts, and riding around town shooting the shit. Going to T J Maxx and trying on outfits together, and driving past our douchey cross country coach’s house and shouting obscenities, only to speed away after.

In high school we talked about drinking, we imagined it. Now as college students, we excitedly called each other up with drinking stories that we had once only thought about.

“What type of drunk are you?” I would ask
”I love to dance when I’m drunk! You?”
”I aggressively hit on people! I can’t help it!”

And then we would come home for break, meet up with our old cross country friends and see for ourselves in suburban basements how we turned into dancing, and flirtatious counterparts.

When our senior year of college was wrapping up, I was interning for a healthcare startup company in Florida. It looked like they were about to offer me a job, and I knew what my idea of a perfect lifestyle out of college looked like. I wanted Bridget back by my side.

“What if you applied to this company?” I asked Bridget. “Imagine it…we would live together, go to the beach, make nicknames for all of our coworkers…it would be like high school again!”

The company was grateful to have her, and we moved to Florida together for the gig, and became roommates and coworkers.

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We became carpoolers again. We would listen to Hot 101.5 on the radio every morning together, and excitedly imagine what the hosts of the radio show look like. After enough time, we looked them up online, and laughed over how different we thought they would look based on their voices. I started following the host of the show on Instagram, and when I saw that he was at a local bowling alley I begged Bridget to come with me to meet him, and we drove to a corner of Tampa and met him together.

Every night after work we would come home and have the same routine. Bridget would change out of her work clothes into something more comfortable. I would take off my heels, and prepare my bong in my work clothes. We would open our balcony door and watch the gorgeous Florida sunsets together every night. We called it “Sky Appreciation” and we would wander out on our balcony on especially gorgeous nights and wonder together how the sky could look so gorgeous and be so different every night.

“It’s like a painting,” I would say. “It’s a painting made for us, every single night, that’s different every single time”

And Bridget would remark on how sad it is that most people don’t look up at the sky and appreciate it. How humans in general don’t appreciate the earth as much as they should.

A few months into living in Florida, I watched a life changing Ted Talk and went vegan. A few months later, Bridget was vegan too. We went to vegan restaurants together, watched documentaries together on the couch in horror, and explored the philosophy of eating animals together on walks and car rides.

I realized after living with her for a year, that Bridget was a true introvert. We took the Myers Briggs quiz together, and laughed when she got 95% introvert as her result. She would spend weekends waking up early on her own for a run, coming back and making a smoothie, and reading Lord of the Rings for hours. I, on the other hand, stayed up until 2 most nights, slept in on the weekends, and made vegan mac n cheese for the majority of my meals. I noticed that Bridget’s introversion correlated directly to her own sense of self-confident. She really, truly liked being by herself. She was at peace with herself, which was something I had always struggled with.

We would go out together on the weekends, sticking by each other’s side every night and coming home to eat food and wonder together why we hadn’t met anyone new. Any potential new friends we did meet, we subconsciously compared to the other, and wrote them off as not being quality enough material for friendship. Besides, I already had everything I needed in one person. What was the need for others?

After some time, though, I started to feel antsy in Florida. I wanted to be in a big city, a young city, with excitement and energy. So I moved to San Francisco, and Bridget moved to Tampa. We promised to keep in touch, and like every previous year, we did.

San Francisco was an adjustment for me, and Bridget navigated the city with me virtually.

“People are kind of pretentious here,” I would text her, “in a weird way. And so PC!”
”Pretentious people are the worst my mahn!” she would text back, “Tell me more about how you’re feeling”

She visited me in San Francisco and we drove around the city, partaking in now-legal fun and hiking around the areas nearby.

“We’re like Lewis and Clark,” we laughed. And then laughed again.

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Eventually I realized that San Francisco wasn’t the city for me, and I moved to New York. She visited me, and I visited her, and in between we kept in constant contact.

I love Bridget so much that it makes my heart sore sometimes. We’ve promised each other over the years that if we don’t end up marrying anyone, after a certain age we’ll shout “fuck it” and move in together, smoke weed and eat vegan food and spend all of our days laughing and refusing to drink the kool-aid together. I think a lot about my future, and who I’ll marry, but my personal favorite daydream is to imagine Bridget and I as neighbors, both in a house that fits our personality, hanging out in our backyards every night as we appreciate the sky and bounce Would You Rather questions off of each other.

It’s my idea of a perfect future, and she’s the embodiment of a perfect friend.

My mahn,
S

MiscShannon McNamaraComment