"My Heart is in…" Left, My plaque of CA. Right, Sam’s plaque of MO.
Samantha and I met as the two new kids in fourth grade. We instantly connected as best friends. Back then, we would have told you that we were BFF’s. But we didn’t quite understand the second “F” yet. It took a few years for us to learn: The second “F” in BFF stands for Forever.
When we were thirteen, Samantha’s family packed up and moved to the suburbs of San Francisco. San Francisco is a long ways away from St. Louis, Missouri. In fact, it took them over 30 hours drive time to make it there. To a 13-year old, she might as well have been moving to another planet.
We had an emotional last few months together, and when the time came, I stood in her driveway with tears in my eyes and watched them pack their car. I can still remember those play horses on display in their stables in her room in that house on Sundowner Ridge. It chokes me up thinking about watching her leave now.
Even though I prayed it wasn’t so, I knew Sam and I would lose touch: soon to forget about each other and to find replacement BFF’s.
Against all odds, Samantha and I had a connection that wouldn’t give out. Amazingly, we kept in touch, updating each other on the exciting new experiences of high school. We remained each other’s anchor - the one friend we could always count on.
Sure, we didn’t live within driving distance of each other. We couldn’t gossip about our classmates or teachers. We never had the chance to meet up at the ice cream place down the street or spend a Friday night at the mall.
But that’s what made our friendship so strong: when it was the two of us, it was just the two of us. Me and Sammy Joe, up against the world - even if those two worlds were thousands of miles apart.
Sam and I were able to stay so close because even though we were physically separated by half a dozen states, we were inseparable. It became a top priority to plan trips and adventures together. Luckily, both of our sets of parents understood the value of our friendship and worked to make our adventures happen. And boy, have we done some cool stuff.
Samantha & Courtney take on San Francisco, 2008
Together, Sam and I have taken on some of the greatest experiences of our lives. In high school, we were able to see each other twice a year - sometimes even more than that. As our priorities and responsibilities have gained weight with maturity, our time together has been limited; we now are only able to spare shorter trips, maybe once a year.
But that doesn’t make our time together any less valuable.
Samantha & Courtney visit Chicago, 2012
My friendship with Sam is one of my most prized possessions. Samantha, my best friend in the entire world, is not just a friend - she is my family. My parents think of her as a daughter, my brother as a sister. And me? I think of her as a necessity. I couldn’t get by without Sammy Joe in my life.
In a few days, Samantha will be venturing to spend her Spring Break with me in my crappy apartment in the chilly Midwest of March. We’ll veg out, eat some good food, and share a few laughs - one might even say her Spring Break will be “nothing special.” But they’d be wrong, of course. Because what we have is so special: it’s the kind of friendship that you come across only once in your life - the kind of friendship that will last forever.
I love you, Sambo!