When we were in 3rd grade we used to huddle together in her big walk in closet with the little bookshelf packed full of Bobsey Twins books trying to read the exact same book together. She is the only person I’ve met who is a faster reader than me, and she never waited for me at the end of the page so all the books I read with her were missing sentences here and there. But i kept going back to read together with her.

In high school it was magazines and her room moved to the basement on the other side of the space with the TV and all the old couches where we played Mario Brothers and Sonic th Hedgehog. I lost every time. She still read faster than me too.

We grew up together, within a few blocks of each others houses and her parents house is as much a childhood fixture for me as mine was. She returned from a year in France and taught me about real chocolate and good wine and good salad dressing.

She dragged me along on countless adventures, camping, hiking, rock climbing and I remember the day she quietly said, “You know, your dad isn’t all that bad.”

She was always planning something, organizing, checking maps, and heading somewhere. She was the adventurer to my homebody bookish tendencies. She was the glue in the friendships we shared.

She is still my best friend. There are 3 of us, Chantelle, Teresa and me. Chuck, Cheese and Smiley forever. Chantelle, of course, was Lady Smiley.

When she planned to move to Africa she actually budgeted to come and visit me in San Diego for a final visit. I’m so glad she did, because I haven’t seen her in person since.

But I’ve been following her work. Here’s what she’s doing in Niger. Niger Vocational Training School. Be sure to click through just for the gorgeous photos she’s taken alone.

 I’m just so proud of her. Also, it’s her birthday.

Happy birthday dear friend. I miss you. I’m proud of you. I hope to see you again someday soon.

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