August 9, 2022

A Decade of Memories

It's absolutely wild to think that 2022 marks ten whole years of my friendship with Rachel. I didn't know it back when we first met, but Rachel is, without any doubt, one of my best friends. We've been through our fair share of ups, downs and all arounds (seriously, the last ten years have been stuffed so full of different life events for us both), but it's really and truly a blessing that Rachel is one of the people I get to do life with and to have in my corner. 

Our friendship means so much to us both, so we decided we wanted to commemorate this milestone by looking back at the last decade together and highlighting ten of our favorite memories. We decided together that we wanted to really dig deep and pick specific moments, not just opting for big blanket ones like saying "a trip to Paris" or "ice cream dates". And let me tell you, with the wealth of memories we've made over the years, this was a challenge! I honestly wish I could just take the easy route and tell you that I treasure all my memories with Rachel (which I do). But that's not what the goal of this post is, and plus, it was really fun to take this trip down memory lane though. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are ten favorite memories I've shared with Rachel since 2012! (PS - Don't forget to check out Rachel's post!)

1. Let me take it waaaaaay back to the night we first met. I don't have an actual photo for this one, but the memory basically lives rent free in my mind because it felt like a turning point. In July 2012, I went to an event at Books of Wonder with Melina Marchetta, Gayle Forman and Kristin Cashore. I grabbed dinner with a few friends afterwards, and one of those people happened to be Rachel. We immediately deduced that, in addition to a love of reading, we also shared a cultural background (both Filipino, as many of you may already know); from there, our conversation just spiraled outwards into a nonstop back-and-forth as we got to know each other. You know how authors sometimes describe those moments where there's a spark in books? That's how it felt - like this was the beginning of something (and it certainly was).

2. Since our friendship began, Rachel & I have watched plenty of films, shows and musicals together. But one of the first (if not the actual first) shows we actually went to see together was Matilda the Musical, which is fitting because it's about a bookworm and it's based on a book (which is one of my childhood favorites). But actually, the thing I remember best about this day was hanging out in Barnes and Noble Union Square and making a stack of books to use as a tripod so we could film something together for a blog collaboration we were doing. Get you a friend who is willing to do these things in public with you for the love of the project you're working on ;) (If you're curious, the project was for our SS&D Celebration and we were doing an interview video with Susan Dennard!)

3. One of the things we share in common is our love for Sarah J. Maas, which all started when we both fell in love with Throne of Glass the year it came out (which coincidentally was also in 2012). We shouted to the rooftops about her books and series on our blogs and other platforms, even going so far as to collaborate with other SJM fans on MaasThirteen. I'll never forget waiting for hours at the Heir of Fire launch party to meet Sarah, get our books signed and give her a present. It was one of those moments where I truly realized how lucky I was to find a friend who was equally passionate about something I loved, a surreal realization since I hadn't really had that in years.

4. Rachel and I have been lucky enough to attend so many book events together, and one of the most special ones has to be the very first ApollyCon in 2015. The event itself was a blast, true, but it's actually the time on the road down to Philly and back to New Jersey that stands out in my mind. (Granted, I'll admit that the many times we've done road trips since could very well be superimposed on this memory.) It's the fact that we spent hours together in the car listening to music we both liked (and we eventually ended up creating an entire shared playlist) and just talking about anything under the sun (seriously, we never ran out of conversation topics) that stays with me. 

5. It's funny how you can be friends with someone for years and still learn new things about them. I'm sure it had come up previously, but Rachel and I ended up purchasing season tickets for the American Ballet Theatre in 2016. I enjoyed all three of the ballets we went to see, but it was really special to see Stella Abrera dance in person. Not only did we have fun going to see the ballets we did, but we also got to see the first Filipina principal dancer perform live together -- that's unforgettable for sure!

6. You know those moments that you see on TV or in a film but never quite believe can happen in real life until they do? That's how I felt when we went to the Bryant Park movie night for Dirty Dancing. Up until that moment, I'd never actually had the chance to attend a similar event (a movie night outdoors with a crowd) even though I'd also wanted to, so it was extra special to get to share that with Rachel. But what I remember best about that night was when we joined everyone who got up and started dancing and singing along at the very end. It just felt like the best way to end the night!

7. One of the most epic trips I've ever been on was the (almost-on-a-whim-but-not-quite-in-the-end) trip we went on to Iceland. It was our first international trip together, which already makes it a landmark, and it was a pretty random destination choice, but I still think back on that adventure quite fondly (despite the fact it was sooooo cold while we were there). But actually, the memory I wanted to mention was the pockets of time we spent reading. We read on the tour buses, and the airports and airplanes, and almost every night when we were winding down from the day's events. It's honestly just lovely to literally be able to sit with someone else and just read undisturbed because they totally get it and are likely reading too. (Plus, I'm pretty sure this was the trip that started my downward slide into reading a looooot of contemporary new adult/adult romance that Rachel recommended...) (For more about our Iceland trip, start by checking out part one of my Iceland Diary). 

8. I find it impossible to forget the day that it was pouring rain in Paris. You'd think that the inclement weather would put me off the city entirely, especially because it was happening during a vacation, right? It's instead become a cherished memory, since Rachel is now literally a person who would weather a storm with me (that's true figuratively speaking as well). Plus, I just remember that instead of getting upset (and truly, being wet and cold is upsetting, don't get me wrong), we just did our best to make the most of it and find a silver lining (and a solution to dry off a wee bit). (For more about our Paris trip, start by checking out part one of my Paris recap).

9. If there's anything I took away from the year COVID-19 shut down the world, it's that the moments I get to spend with loved ones should be cherished. During the pandemic, Rachel and I went from seeing each other very regularly (at least once every 2-3 weeks) to going months without actually getting to see each other in person. So it was a real treat when Rachel met up with me at Gantry Plaza to celebrate my birthday. We were blessed with beautiful weather and a not-too-crowded park, true, but the fact that we could (safely) be together to catch up in person and celebrate a special occasion that really makes this memory meaningful to me. 

10. Remember how I mentioned Rachel and I have gone on our fair share of road trips together? One of our longest trips (in terms of hours spent in the car) was up to Vermont during the fall of last year. While so much of that trip was wonderful, what I still think about the most were the foliage drives we went on to see all the fall foliage. Mother Nature really is incredible when she's out in full force (seriously, so much stunning foliage and I couldn't even capture it properly on camera honestly). Getting to share such a special experience with my best friend was absolutely priceless, that's for sure. (I didn't get to do a blog post for this trip, but Rachel did!)

The truth is, at the end of the day, I genuinely am just floored by the fact that Rachel and I have made so many memories over the last decade. Getting the chance to revisit so many of the activities and events and trips and collaborations from our past while putting together this post was really a lot of fun and very nostalgic.

Rach, I've said this many times, but I'm so thankful to have you in my life. You're someone who inspires me to do better, aspire more, dream bigger and be the best version of myself that I can be. You're not only a person I can lean on when times get rough and tough, but also a person who will be there to celebrate my wins, whether they be big or small. Thanks for cheering me on and cheering me up; for the advice and the recommendations; for just being you and for letting me be a part of your life. I love you dearly, and I'm just grateful for our friendship and am eager to see what comes next in the years ahead.


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