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When we were young, I could never understand how I, such an animal person, could be close with someone who had no pets at all. So I thought I could fix you. I bought you a betta fish. You named him Claude Vincent Van Monet. I think you really liked him, but that was as far as you got for a long time. I decided I would be friends with you anyway. Seriously, though, your lack of companion animals was the only flaw I could ever find in you. I'm glad you finally corrected it and become a proper cat-lover. Now you're perfect. Well done.

So many memories; where to begin? We grew up together, went from kids to reasonable approximations of grown-ups together. I remember girl scouts and Madrigals and school plays and birthday parties. I remember all the school dances you used to sneak out to. I remember when we were little and your mom made you wear Indian garb to school. You brought 'normal' clothes with you so you could change. Later on, you and your mom didn't care so much about what you were wearing. One day you came into high school wearing sweatpants with your hair a mess. I asked if you'd just rolled out of bed onto the bus and you said, "Actually, yes."

I remember when you shaved your head and, even though your mom hated it, I thought you were so beautiful. I always think you're beautiful. I remember when you would come back from summers in India so skinny that your face looked like a heart. I remember once we celebrated your return to Western dining with a visit to the Pipe Dream restaurant. We listened to a couple fight about golfing and ate until we were ready to explode.

You made me come trick-or-treating with you even though we were too old. We met a guy with no legs - he gave us candy - and sang our way around the neighborhood until 2am. You led me around New York a hundred times and never let me get lost or hit by a car. You took care of me and you challenged me. You were my rebel and my rock.

It wasn't always singing and laughing, though. I remember you wrote Poison Pen letters to me because you believed some rumors Danielle was spreading. You figured out that she was lying and after that we were best friends. The only time I ever got detention was because you and I couldn't stop chatting in math class. We had to stay and wash desks. I remember us having one -- and only one -- fight, when you complained about having to take a bus somewhere. I made a comment because I thought you were being prissy about it, like you were too good for the bus. You set me down, let me know that you didn't consider yourself better than people who take the bus, you just didn't like the dirty, uncomfortable ride.

But you know what? You are too good. Too good for the bus, too good for me, too good for that lucky so-and-so who'll get to call you his Mrs. from here on out. I hope he understands the fire of you. I hope he basks in your brilliance. I hope he gives you all the joy you deserve.

You were such a big part of making me who I am. The day after you lost your virginity, we were at my house, eating tomatoes from the garden. You were in raptures over how wonderful they tasted because the world had been made glorious by this new and magical thing you'd experienced. Everything seemed better, you said -- the sun was brighter, the colors more beautiful, and even food tasted better. And what did I say? I said it was horseshit. I explained that the tomatoes were really really good because we fertilized the garden with horse manure that year. But I couldn't change your mind. And you were right. You knew the secret -- that relationships can transform ordinary life into something delicious. Love is what makes the world vibrant. Dude. J'adore. I love you.

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