Wildflower part two: the glass is half full edition

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So, when we last left our intrepid author, she’d just finished crying on the boat ramp and was getting ready to head back to camp. I went back to transition and gathered up the majority of my gear. I left Slim there because the shuttles for bikes wouldn’t be running until later in the afternoon and I did not have the wherewithal to lug him up the steep walking trail back to camp. Todd was kind enough to carry my pack and I started my mental shift toward the new agenda for the day by looking forward to a hot shower.

As we got into camp, I ran into numerous team mates who were surprised to see me and had to tell the sad tale of what happened. Everyone was so unbelievably supportive and kind, which really lifted my spirits. My shower was magnificent and after a little chilling at camp, we packed up a lunch cooler, my little portable chair, some cowbells and pom-poms and staked out a good place to cheer for Catherine when she came by on the bike.

It was really awesome to cheer for the other cyclists out on the course. (And, to be honest, seeing how miserable some of them looked really took the sting out of not being among them.) I had an idea of when Catherine should be coming by and before we knew it, there she was. She looked surprised to see me and when I cheered her on, she said something to the effect of pulling the plug after the bike. I told her she was absolutely (effing) not and then Todd and I powerwalked down to the transition area.

Because I still had my race numbers, I could go into the transition area and found her fully changed into her run gear, standing in front of her spot. Having been in this situation so many times myself, it was easy to see that she just needed a little nudge and she was going to be just fine. So, I coaxed her onto the run course with a “just go out for the first mile, if it really sucks you can come back. Besides, what else do you have to do today?” And just like that, she headed out.

I texted our OTC teammate Betsy the situation and told her I was grabbing my bike and then would meet her to cheer Catherine on the run course. Todd and I rode the blessed shuttle up the hill and I released him to go nap/chill in the campground, grabbed my hydration pack full of anything Catherine might want when she came by, my chair, can of wine and cheering supplies and joined Betsy to wait for Catherine at approximately the halfway point of the run. There was a long hill that Betsy was planning to run with Catherine and I said I would do the same. After a little while a few more team mates joined us and we made quite a commotion when Catherine finally came into view. This picture says it all:

She looked so strong and steady, we were all amped up with pride and excitement for her. Betsy and I headed to the next viewing spot, right before the one-mile descent back to transition. It was great to chat with Betsy and get to know her better. Some more of our teammates joined us to high five her as she came by, all smiles.

The only bummer about the set-up was that there was no real way for us to get to the finish line in time, so we left Catherine to her well-earned triumph and headed back to camp for a group photo:

Clif was hosting an 80’s party, so soon our camp was filled with all sorts of rad fashion:

One of our teammates brought his costume box, so those of us who weren’t as prepared as Ms. Erica here could still join in the fun:

So. Much. Awesome.

I hadn’t really brought a full costume for the party since I figured I’d just finish racing about the time it started. But I did find some crimped colorful hair extensions that I tucked into my bag. There was one black one that I pinned on Todd as a makeshift rat tail. So stylin’!

Sadly, the 80’s party was a little bit of a disappointment when we got there. They turned off the 80’s music for some country western band (?!?) so a lot of us abandoned the party to go spectate an impromptu beer mile happening in another part of the campground. It was fun to cheer on that insanity and then we headed back to camp. By that point, we could hear that the 80’s party had ramped up, but we were too tired to go back.

The next morning, Todd and I had a leisurely morning at camp and then headed down to cheer on the sprint and olympic athletes. It was such a blast to cheer for everyone and see OTC kick some major ass. We stationed ourselves in the same bike course spot as yesterday and got to see most of the olympic distance folks pass by on the bike. Then, we went back and packed up camp. Originally, we were told that the roads were closed until 3, so I was planning to pack up and then go down to the finish to cheer. But, after we’d packed up, we noticed cars leaving the campground and decided to press our luck. I had to catch a plane to North Carolina early the next morning, so any extra time to pack my suitcase and be at home was too tempting to pass up. I was super bummed to miss the finish line antics and hear everyone’s race stories, but I will plan better for next year and not have a stupid business trip right non the heels of this race.

As you might imagine, I am already planning ahead for next year. I definitely have unfinished business with this course and a head full of plans on how to improve. Stay tuned for Wildflower: the redemption edition post in 2019! Huge thanks to all of my OTC peeps. This would have been such a huge bummer of a weekend without you!

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Wildflower part one: the “what happened” edition

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For those unfamiliar with triathlon culture or who haven’t had to listen to me yammer on about my doings (you lucky bastards!), Wildflower is an iconic race that’s been around for ~35 years. It bills itself as the “Woodstock of triathlon” which is pretty accurate. It’s this weird combination of hippie festival and Type A sporting event. And I’ve wanted to do it for as long as I’ve known about it – approximately ten years or so. But logistics of flying to a race where you need to camp combined training for an early May half ironman in the Pacific Northwest were too daunting. Then, after we moved back to CA, the drought had taken it’s toll on the event – the lake levels continued to drop until last year when they had to cancel it.

So, when the announcement came that Wildflower was coming back, I decided this was a sign from the universe and pulled the trigger pretty early. I’d been wanting a big goal to train for and now I lived close enough to be able to drive my ridiculous amounts of stuff there. Plus, as an added bonus, OTC announced it as a club race, so there were a ton of people to train and camp with. Huzzah!

Spring rocketed by and, before I knew it, it was time to pack up the car and head to Lake San Antonio!

I wanted to get there early so that we could settle in and not do a big three hour drive the day before the race. I was very glad I did, because there was a little bit of drama with our camping sites. The club had been promised ten reserved sites, but between the event organizers not really marking them and mis-communication over which campgrounds were first-come/first-serve, we only had three. Thankfully, our president carries caution tape in his truck, (WTF Charlie?) so we hastily marked off some open space:

But, thankfully we got that resolved and we could settle into the serious business of glamping. Charlie’s hammock got the party started:

Then Todd raised the ante with his inflatable couch and travel bar:

And then it just went from there. Todd and I have met our match!

The next morning we went down to the festival/race start. I knew this was a big race, but looking at the transition area was the first solid indication:

The swim start/finish. The long concrete hill to climb after swimming was an especially nice touch…

There were these cool steps with the winners’ names on them. It was basically a greatest hits list of racers in this sport. It reminded me of the bricks at Ironman Canada in Penticton – such a sense of triathlon history.

They also had these big cut-outs of famous past racers (I assume?) set up around the park. It was pretty cool.

It was hard to stay off your feet and rest before the race. There was a huge expo to look at, packets to pick-up, food trucks, music, etc. But I finally tore myself away and went back to the camp site to put my feet up and watch Erica hang the disco ball:

You heard me, disco ball!

The majority of the group had shown up by this point, so we had a great afternoon/evening of hanging out and chatting:

Then it was time to go to bed because the next morning was race day! (I have butterflies just typing that.) Ear plugs and melatonin helped me get a few hours, but I did my usual tossing and turning, followed by the butterflies/pit of dread in my stomach when it’s time to get up. It’s weird that I choose to do a sport where I don’t actually enjoy competing. I love to train for a goal, but the actual racing – not so much.

So, as I gathered my backpack of race gear and headed down to the start, I was doing my usual pre-race warm-up of breathing/trying not to cry/going to the porta-potty a million times.  The transition area now looked like this, so I had LOTS of company:

Photo credit: Erica Hruby

I hadn’t really planned well for a bright and sunny start line (note for next year, bring cheap sunglasses… ) and was generally feeling rattled. They said that transition would be closed at 8, 45 minutes before my start time and I didn’t know if I would see Todd beforehand with the huge crowd, so I had to leave my watch and wedding ring in transition instead of giving them to him. By the time I saw him, I was a little bit of a mess. He’s seen this movie before, to he hugged me and helped me into my wetsuit and generally calmed me down.

We found a place to sit on the dock and watched the swim waves start. It was good to take a minute to chill and gather myself. I was still super nervous, but feeling okay. Way too soon, it was time to put on my hot pink swim cap and join my wave. I gave Todd a final hug good-bye and headed over.

The swim start is super narrow and I’ve heard many stories of getting punched and kicked, so I started way in the back of my wave. As usual, the adrenaline of the race start had my heart rate through the roof, so I did my customary stop/breast-stroke for a couple of strokes to look at where I was heading, get my breathing under control and find my rhythm. I’ve done this so many times and while I’m not a fast swimmer, I am a steady one. I usually settle into a nice stroke, find a line a little off the buoy line, so I’m not getting swum over by faster swimmers behind me and get it done.

But this time, I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I stopped and breast-stroked a few more times and it just wasn’t working, so I finally stopped at one of the safety kayaks and paused for a little while trying to figure out what to do. (The poor 20-something on the kayak had no idea what to do with me, so thankfully my only real option was to keep swimming – either back to shore or to finish the course.) I started to feel better and so I headed out again.

The swim course is a big triangle and my kayak stop was probably a third of the way up the first side of the the triangle and I was finally starting to feel better and get into my groove a little bit. Then when I made it to the turnaround point (the top of the triangle) it felt like someone stepped on my chest. I moved over to the side, so I wasn’t in the way of all the swimmers, but I was seriously freaking out (which didn’t really help things). I was wheezing and thinking about all of Todd’s pre-heart attack symptoms and various bad scenarios.

So, when the second 20-something kayaker asked if I was okay, I was like “I don’t think so?” Like the first one, he didn’t really know what to do once I said I thought I needed to stop, but thankfully he found a lady with a radio who did. I cried on his kayak for a bit while the medical team came over to give me a ride back to shore. They handed me off to some nice paramedics (one of whom made my day by asking my age and then doing a double take when I told him. It’s the little things, right?) The paramedics checked me out, ran an EKG and listened to my lungs. They asked me a million questions and didn’t really have any explanation for me, but at least I could rule out my horror scenarios.

I walked up the ramp to meet Todd and had a good cry saying good-bye to the race day I wanted and accepting the one that I got. I was full of doubts that I’d done the right thing. (Was it lack of fitness? Was it an anxiety attack? Would it happen again?) Thankfully, my many years of doing this sport kicked in and I had to accept that even if I’d “toughened up” and made it back to shore, I was in no shape to tackle a long, hot, hilly bike ride and would likely have not made the bike cut-off. That mental picture went a long way and helped me be thankful that I could listen to my body, even when I didn’t like what it was saying. Plus, having my race end on the swim meant that I could still cheer Catherine on the bike and run. Stay tuned for part two!

Powering into 2018

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How are we already two weeks into January? So far the theme of 2018 has been “Oh crap, how am I so far behind schedule?” I’ve been ruminating about the whole start of the year “fresh start phenomenon” and was planning to write a post about it much earlier than now, but hey, better late than never, right?

I LOVE the concept of a fresh start. When I was a kid, I always liked the first day of school because I believed that this would be the year that it all would be different – I’d finally be that good student/popular girl/”insert ephemeral and impossible to attain goal here”. Needless to say, that never seemed to happen and I would remain the same person. (Shocking, I know.)

Fast forward to New Year’s Resolutions. Same idea, but sadder because I should have caught a clue from the earlier lessons. Nope! “I’m going to go to the gym every day!” “I’m going to lose xx pounds!” You name it, I’ve probably resolved it. I think this is why the phrase “New Year, New You” makes me so ragey. Or maybe it’s just because that phrase is so. stupid.

But I can’t help it, I still love that fresh start feeling of January 1. This year, I came across a new (to me) idea that I really love: picking a power word. When I first read about it, I was intrigued and immediately overwhelmed. How could I sum up what I want to accomplish in only one word?

At first, I approached it from a logical standpoint. What are my goals? What do I want to accomplish this year? But that felt a lot like the resolutions and the words that were coming to mind just weren’t resonating. So, I tried to delve deeper – what was underneath all of those goals? And I realized that what I truly want is to not be swallowed by the darkness around me, I want to be happy and healthy and pursue the things that have meaning to me without getting bogged down in the bullshit and distractions that are all around us. And the first image that came to mind was a night sky with a few lonely stars shining bravely.

So, my power word for 2018 is shine. I like it for the above reasons and from the concept of Shine Theory from one of my favorite podcasts. I love the idea that you can elevate others while still trying to be your best self. And it’s funny, since I picked that word it’s been easier to get out for my workouts, make better food choices and, most importantly, to not beat myself up when I fail to do either of those things. I know there will be days where it will by harder, so I’m just going to focus on nurturing that flame inside me and giving it what it needs to burn brightly out into the darkness.

It’s complicated

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On one hand, 2017 was a real trash heap of a year. I’m typically pretty good at managing my media intake so that I don’t become overwhelmed with current events and political rhetoric, but that was pretty much impossible. The stakes are too high and the current administration’s strategy seems to be to carpet bomb the populace with terribleness, so that we can’t possibly keep up. UGH!

Not to mention, it seemed like everyone I knew was having terrible things happen. Beloved pets died (more on this in a bit… ), job losses, family member illnesses, and just random terrible things happening to people I care about, etc. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias due to the aforementioned political situation, but it sure seemed to be everywhere.

But I also had some really great moments in 2017. I tried to start writing a post on this blog so many times, but it just seemed so frivolous and dumb in the wake of all that was going on. So, I’m just going to say fuck you 2017, you can’t take all of my joy. Here’s a list of some of my personal highlights from this year:

Finally got back to triathlon
In April, I did the sprint distance at HITS Napa, which was freezing cold (like, for real, not just by my wussy California standards… ) I couldn’t feel my feet until mile 2 of the three mile run. But I ran every step and finished with a smile on my face:

I also joined a tri club and toed the line of the Oakland Triathlon Olympic distance. I was way undertrained, but it was so much fun to race in my city with a bunch of new friends (plus one of my rad Seattle book group ladies!) Definitely looking forward to coming back next year with some actual consistent training!

Celebrated 20(!!!) years of marriage
Since I still feel like I’m in my 20’s… maybe early 30’s, this was a crazy milestone. But we went to New Orleans to celebrate and had the best time. We stayed in a gorgeous bed and breakfast, ate and drank ALL OF THE THINGS and generally just fully enjoyed our first, but hopefully not last, time visiting that wonderful city.

Went to freakin’ Japan!!!

I need to write some retroactive posts for this trip because it was AMAZING. Seriously, find a way to go visit because it is worth it. We joined up with Erik and Nerissa for this trip, which made it even more fun.

Got to see Hamilton

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Christmas present from Erik & Nerissa. It was fantastic. See it if you can.

A few random travel adventures
A Las Vegas trip with Erik & Todd, work trips to Boston and Napa (I know, rough life!) Plus, we got up to Oregon to celebrate my parents 50th anniversary and down to visit Heidi and the fam in LA. So many fun excursions, so little time…

And more!
Plus, as I scrolled through my Instagram to remind myself of what else happened this year, there were so many great photos of culinary excursions, wine tastings and general life awesomeness. Even though two good local friends moved away, one went to her dream job and the other to a pretty perfect fit for her hobbies and well-being. I look forward to adding both of them to the random travel adventures category in the near future.

So, let’s all cross our fingers that 2018 is all of the good stuff for the majority of the population and let all of the bad stuff rain down on a certain administration.

One year later…

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A year ago, I wrote a lengthy blog post and detonated the remains of a really important relationship in my life. I’ve thought often about what might have been different if I’d known we’d be moving in six months. Could I have been patient? Would she have actually talked to me? Or was the feeling that she was ghosting out of our friendship correct? Who knows…

Healing is a funny thing. It has helped tremendously to be in a totally new environment. (Especially one in which I didn’t know her when I lived here before.) And for the most part, I’ve made my peace with the situation, but I find myself wishing I could text her about super random things. Like when the guy in front of me is buying a bag full of lemons. Or my mother-in-law goes to an impromptu Jazzercize class down the street. And those are the times that I miss her the most.

And while I am tremendously sorry that my blog post hurt her, and there are definitely things I would have phrased differently if I hadn’t been in such a messed up place myself, I can’t say that I’m sorry that I wrote it. I learned exactly how universal and strange losing a close female friend is and had some amazing conversations with people about it that I never would have otherwise. It definitely helped the healing process.

I still wish that she’d reach out, but I’m not counting on it. Whatever happens, I hope that life is treating her well and that she’s happy. I’m grateful for the parts of our friendship that were awesome and for the lessons learned from the less-awesome parts. I guess that’s all we can really hope for, isn’t it?

Hanging in

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First off, I want to thank everyone for your amazing support. I couldn’t believe how many people reached out with their own stories of lost friendships or just some sympathetic words. It made being the blocking on Facebook and Instagram (of not just me, but pretty much anyone she knew through me) a little easier to bear. It’s dumb how much that hurts, but I suppose it’s a symbol of the larger hole in my life.

I’ve been trying to deal with the whole situation in as healthy a way as I can – going to yoga, keeping the eating healthy, trying to focus on the positive things in my life and look forward. That’s not to say there aren’t the occasional “too much wine” nights or sulking in the backyard moments, but I’m working on it. It helped that we had some great sunny weather last weekend, which lifted the whole city’s spirits. Here’s Wally soaking up the last of it with me on Monday evening:

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This weekend, the boy and I celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary (!!!) He’s got some epic surprise planned, so I’m sure there will be some good blogging material to come. Then after that, I’ve got a few awesome adventures planned for the first part of May, so this blog will get back on track soon with some more light-hearted posts.

Like a sister

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***Warning: this is going to be a VERY long and emotional post about my personal life. If I had a shrink, I’d be sharing all of this with them, but due to my crappy health insurance, that’s not an option right now, so I’m sharing this with you lucky people.***

This is a blog post that I probably shouldn’t write. It’s personal and it is never a good idea to put delicate thoughts and emotions out for public viewing. (People who know me in real life/long time readers of this blog will know who I’m talking about, but I’m not going to call her out by name or initial.) I know I should write this down in a private journal instead, but I’m putting it out here anyway, because I need to voice my side of the story. Because I don’t know that I’ll ever get to say any of this to her in person. Because it’s eating me up inside. And because, over the last week or so, reading other people’s blog posts about similar situations has been very comforting and helpful to me. Here’s hoping this will help some other poor bastard. (Hope you like to read, sir or madam… )

I knew that her having kids would change things. I’m not stupid, I don’t have to experience it personally to get that having a baby changes every fiber of your being. It’s a huge thing and I was prepared to roll with the punches, neither of us knowing what those would be. And for the first year, it was challenging but we rolled along pretty much okay. There were definitely sucky times where I really could have used the old her’s support, time and attention. But I still felt like she was there for me to the best of her ability.

Then, little by little, our friendship just felt more and more one-sided. It started to feel like her problems were a higher priority than mine. And that my friendship just wasn’t as important to her any more. She’d always seem to have time and energy for her other new mom friends, while our plans seemed to get cancelled more often than they used to. But I still believed that, when it really mattered, she’d be there for me.

Then T had a heart attack. And when I called her that first night, she unhesitatingly came to the emergency room and “distracted” me with the trials and tribulations of putting an offer in to buy her dream house. And I appreciated it at the time. But, the next day, when I asked her to come to the hospital to visit T and help me keep his spirits up, she begged off because “she hadn’t slept well the night before and just wasn’t feeling great.” They came by to visit when T was finally home from the hospital, crushed from losing their bid to buy the house. And somehow, I found myself comforting her, serving her wine on the couch while her toddler ran rampant in my home. I was devastated. In the days that followed, as other friends checked in to see how I was doing, she was not among them.

At this point, I absolutely should have sat down and had a conversation with her. Initially, I was just emotionally reeling at the whole “heart attack” experience and wanted to wait until I wasn’t so raw. I was afraid I’d say really hurtful things that I didn’t mean and couldn’t take back. But really, I was just afraid. I suck at telling people they’ve hurt me, because I fundamentally believe that they just won’t care. I hoped it would get better on it’s own. (I realize how dumb that is.)

Life went on. The feelings of not being important in her life, except for as a person to complain to, continued. Plans continued to be cancelled, to the point where it became a punchline for T and I. Texts and visits stretched further and further apart. It hurt and it sucked. Then the second pregnancy was announced. And it was “announced” by her not having some of the special wine that we’d opened at Thanksgiving and quietly confirmed by her husband in the kitchen. Later, when she “officially” told me (and another friend while we were out at a diner), she explained that she didn’t want to make a big announcement to the whole group. And I absolutely understood that.

But it was telling that we hadn’t spent any alone time together in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving or in the two weeks that followed. And that it wasn’t important to her to share this level of information with me any more. (In sharp contrast to the first one, where we were pretty much the first people who knew.) And that’s when I saw just how big of a shift had happened in our friendship. That she didn’t regard me the same way. And I didn’t know what to do about it.

We muddled through the holidays and tried to get together. And couldn’t seem to make it happen. We finally ended up popping by their house, (which was good, because otherwise I would have had a Christmas present for her kid lying around my house for two and a half months). I made a New Years resolution to myself that I wasn’t going to drive all of our interactions any more. That I’d happily respond to any overtures that she made, but I wasn’t going to make all of the effort.

Months went by, and except for 20 minutes when she brought back some items that she’d borrowed from me, I haven’t seen her. There have been some texts back and forth. At one point, I strayed from my resolution and sent a text about hanging out. Which was rewarded with a sharp text about how she was sick and potty training a toddler and didn’t have time to socialize. I really wanted to say something hateful in response. I was so hurt, but I forced myself to write something pleasant and hoped that some overture of friendship would follow.

Except for a text complaining about her crazy sister, that never happened. I didn’t respond to her text about her sister drama, but I felt bad and I sent her a happy birthday via text that went unanswered. Then I went to Catalina and ran a really crazy marathon and she wrote nice things on my social media, which felt hopeful. So, T and her husband tried to set up plans for us to hang out when we got back, only to have her pull the plug on them without suggesting other plans. There was this weird, obvious distance between us that I didn’t know how to fix. I invited them for dinner in the hopes that it would kickstart a conversation. And, success, she suggested that we sit down and have a conversation about what was going on between us.

While it would be overselling it to say I was happy, I was glad to finally have something on the calendar. Due to her mother-in-law being in town that weekend and then both of us being in Oregon the following weekend, we set a date that was two weeks away, (today, as it turns out). During that two weeks, I thought a lot about our impending conversation and noticed that she’d stopped following me on the social media that I can see (Instagram and Pinterest). It definitely gave me an ominous feeling, but even if she wanted to “break up with me” I would at least get some closure.

So, Friday rolled around and I sent a casual text asking her what she wanted to do. No response. There were shots from her beautiful maternity shoot on Instagram, but no response. Saturday around noon I sent a follow-up “Hello?” text to see what was up, knowing that it wasn’t likely to go well. I finally got a response saying she was having a rough time, that she didn’t respond to texts as quickly as she used to and that if I’d sent her a text saying hi and asking her how she was doing, it would have made her feel a lot better. And that she’s just not ready to have an emotional conversation about our relationship.

I’m going to pause here and remind the reader that my friend is pregnant and chock-full of hormones. I want to be very clear that I really do believe she is going through a hard time. This is not dramatics on her part, and I want to represent that fairly. But, at the same time, I have no way of knowing any of this and the text makes me really, really angry. But I take a few deep breaths and write the gentlest version of what I want to say, which is basically: I can’t possibly have known that and it’s unfair of you to hold it against me. I love you and I don’t know what to do anymore. When you’re ready to talk, I am here.

And so, a million words later, we come to the present moment. I obviously don’t know what the future will hold. I don’t know that we will ever have the conversation that needs to happen for us to be friends again, nor do I know what that friendship even looks like. I do know that we’ve been through a lot together and I would be very sad to see our friendship end like this. I have no doubt she could write her own lengthy blog post of grievances and I’m positive there are things that I’ve done that have hurt her just as deeply as she’s hurt me. And for that, I sincerely apologize. (Especially since this blog post may very well be one of them.)

I hope that we can find our way back to friendship. And I’m struggling through the anger, hurt, and other seething emotions to wish her well, should our friendship be over for good. (I’m not quite there yet, but I will be.) We once bonded over the phrase “like a sister” meaning super closeness because she had as tumultuous relationship with her sister as I have with mine. Our friendship allowed me to feel like I could understand what that could be like and we frequently joked about how we wished we could trade with our actual sisters. Ironically, now our relationship is like I’ve always personally interpreted that phrase: a confusing, emotional mine-field, filled with only my side of the story. It’s completely heart-breaking.