I've known Candace since middle school, when we passed notes in Texas History class and often got in trouble for giggling. We haven't stopped laughing since.
When we were 18, we each spent a year in Europe as exchange students. At the end of the year, we traveled through Europe by train with two other girlfriends, and together we laughed through every country. In Italy, while waiting to board a ferry, we watched young Italian sailors prank each other by holding lit cigarette lighters to each other's butts. We screamed and laughed when we checked into a hotel in Paris that had a hole in the floor that doubled as a toilet and a shower. In Greece, we cracked plates on each other's heads and took nasty shots of Ouzo, and possibly partially skinny-dipped in the Mediterranean. But don't tell our moms.
We reunited after college, randomly bumping into each other one night on 6th street, and we were attached at the hip from then on. We laughed our way through The Dating Years, especially the time we decided meeting guys in bars wasn't working, so we went to the First United Methodist Church in Austin and went to a single's Sunday School class, only to find the men there were old enough to be our grandfathers. At one point, I dated a guy who was so toxic it nearly ruined our friendship. Lucky for me, I dumped the guy and kept my friend, and she was with me through it all.
We briefly considered starting a business together, mixing up some of the most fabulous salsa on the planet. We were going to bottle it up and sell it as Blondie's Salsa. To this day, every year the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival happens, I wonder what would have happened if we'd gotten our act together and started a salsa empire. Then again, it's never too late!
Soon, life went into fast-forward. Through the years, we've celebrated graduations, birthdays and weddings. Together with our other girlfriends, we've spent many nights over glasses of wine, sitting on Candace's porch, talking through problems and working out life together. We've been there for each other as we lost loved ones. We've cried our fair share of tears together, but somehow, we always end up laughing.
As long as I've known her, I feel confident that I can speak for Candace when I say that we are both most proud of being mothers. Parenting-wise, I got a head start on Candace by falling in love with a man with children of his own, and I had the good fortune of learning about parenthood by being a stepmother. Less than a year after I had Emily Rose, Candace had Kendall, and the second generation of giggly girls entered our lives. Being mothers of girls so close in age has been one of life's biggest blessings, and the laughter has just gotten louder.
Candace pushes me to challenge myself, reminds me to live in the moment, and is always there. When I'm being a worrywart, she sends me articles about whatever I'm worrying about. When Tim and I are being stupid married people and fighting over something ridiculous, she lends me the right book to work out our problems. Just this weekend, she took Emily Rose for a sleepover when I was too sick to get out of bed. And just a few moments ago, she sent a text that made me laugh so hard tears streamed down my face.
Candace, I'm doing this gratitude project because of course you inspired me to do it. Thank you for your friendship. Let's keep on laughing no matter what!