Some facts inside this picture:
1. It is November 2005. Rylee and I are only just 19, and freshmen in college. This is, I think, the earliest picture I have of the two of us.
2. Rylee knew me for two months at this point. Her early-year birthday went virtually uncelebrated — being that we were still basically all strangers — but when it was my birthday two months later, she decorated our dorm lounge in Gryffindor colors, gathered all the girls and boys from our floor, and made them sit in a circle on the floor around me. Then she forced each of them to say one thing they liked about me.
3. Our hair was not at optimal length, for either of us, at this time. We are agreed on that.
4. The sign says “glue sisters” because the way we became friends was a shared interest in spreading Elmer’s Glue all over our palms, pressing them together, letting them dry, and picking off the pieces like sunburnt skin. The two boys in the lounge at the time were visibly appalled, but then one of them became Rylee’s boyfriend a few weeks later. On Valentine’s Day Rylee taped a trail of paper hearts from his room to the downstairs piano lounge, sprinkled Hershey’s kisses on the piano, and set out sparkling grape juice. He gave her some candy the day after. A lot of it was those little gummy hamburgers. She probably should have known right then.
5. My boobs were a Jack and the Beanstalk-type situation: appearing overnight, against all the odds. I’m never quite sure when; I just know that there is a Before Boobs era and an After Boobs era, and the first ends somewhere between 19 and 21, and all I can do to pinpoint it is to catalog pictures as being on either side. This photo is B.B.
6. The “S.O.S.” on the poster refers to “Spies On Six,” which is a hobby we had for two days in which we dressed up like spies and crept past the closed bedroom doors on our floor. Little to no intelligence was gained.
7. The fireplace is, disappointingly, gas. But we should have used it more. You always hope your future will have more fireplaces than it does. Some people hope that, anyway.
8. The sweatshirt she’s wearing in the picture is the sweatshirt Rylee would wear, I think, for four or five days in a row when Gummy broke up with her in April. Later he tried to win her back with a box of Orange Crush, but by then it was TOO LATE.
9. She is singing to me and I am embarrassed, and that is why my face looks like that. I hate public singing, and I get uncomfortably embarrassed when anyone sings “happy birthday” in particular (because everyone LOOKS at you, and what to do with your face? THIS??), and all of this birthday-related attention made me very sweaty.
10. Rylee is never embarrassed about anything. She is fearless. It’s annoying.
A fact outside the picture: today it is just under seven years later, her 26th birthday. If I were sitting in a circle and had to say one thing I liked about her, it would be this: she spends most of her energy thinking about how to make herself a better person, and the world a better place. That, and she is an inspirationally filthy dancer.