I was in a wedding this weekend where I was the Maid of Honor for my best friend. This was the speech I gave.
For those of you that don’t know who I am, my name is Kate and I have known Ali for 24 years. There used to be a TV show in the 80s called Kate and Allie. Now, as you can see by the looks of our young faces, we are certainly not that old. But just like those two characters, we are best friends. Ali moved in across the street when I was three and she was two. It didn’t take long for her to introduce herself.
Her cheery smile ran up to greet me as I played on the swing set. She was always the one to go first. Never hesitant, never a fear or a worry, and not a filter, especially at a young age. You see, I needed glasses, but when I was three, I didn’t have them yet. And so I had this look — which really was me squinting because I couldn’t see. When Ali ran across the street, the first thing she said was, “Are you Chinese!?” And that is how our story began.
Over the years, Ali has helped me let my guard down. She has often led the way, making me take chances and forcing me to take a leap when all I wanted to do was stay on the ground. She is more than a best friend, she is my sister. She knows me better than almost any other person – she knows my strengths and weaknesses. And she loves me regardless. She lives life every day, and her energy forces those around her to do the same. She doesn’t let a moment pass where she doesn’t enjoy the beauty of this thing called life.
For fifteen years we lived across the street, only steps away whenever we needed each other. And we were inseparable. Ask any of our family. As a kid, summers were the best — running around the neighborhood, playing in the yard. Swimming and late night ball tag. Falls equaled leaf piles and Halloween. Winters meant snow forts AND blanket forts. Spring meant lots and lots of mud puddles! In high school, most of our fun was intertwined with classes and school events. Weekend nights of TPing friends’ houses, driving our cars to unknown places and staying out until midnight. We also worked together at the pool for six summers. But when I left for college, the distance between us changed from those two steps to over two hours. And our time together changed from every weekend to the occasional weekend. In college, I wrote a poem about our friendship and I want to share it with you today. It is called Cake and Ice Cream.
“Are you Chinese?”
A voice of three disbelieves.
That’s how our story began—
not quite the grace
of once a upon a time,
but the day you started preschool,
you turned and saw me near.
And on the first day of first grade,
you walked with me
to the bus. stop.
That is what matters.
As we grew together, we grew apart
but every year as the final bell rang,
you waited at the end of the drive
for me, or I for you.
Tree high with pens and shears
we engraved Kate & Ali.
Our names inseparable
just like cake and ice cream.
Barbies, pep rallies, crushes, Friday nights and dances.
Police, heartbreaks, secrets, sleepovers and licenses.
Summers, postcards, plays, car trips and galleries.
Holidays, phone calls, recitals, email and house stays.
We have grown up and moved out, but some days I go home
and hope to see you waiting at the end of the drive.
Just like the old days.
The ice cream has melted and the cake is gone,
But if we climb high enough, Kate & Ali are still scribed in that same old tree.
True story. We did in fact scribe our names, Kate & Ali, on the trunk of my parents’ tree. And if you stand in just the right spot, you can still see our names etched in the bark.
I still remember one of the first times I met Dylan. It was at Ali’s 22nd birthday extravaganza. If you have ever celebrated a birthday with Ali, you know she doesn’t take them lightly — always a go big or go home event. We were celebrating downtown, and Dylan came too. He spent the entire night with us crazy ladies, and I quickly realized what a great guy he is.
And over the years, Dylan has become my friend too. He is funny, reliable, dependable, and hardworking. He is an all around good guy and he would do anything to make sure Ali is happy. Including making sure her best friend is happy too. And we all know that is important!
Today I give up my name spot next to Ali’s so that Ali and Dylan can build a life together, and I couldn’t have picked a better person for her to choose.
So, Ali and Dylan, I ask that you pick a tree, climb high and carve your names. Find a tree that means something, a place that you share a memory. Back in the day, Ali and I used permanent markers and scissors on our favorite climbing tree. I might suggest a carving knife now, but a permanent marker isn’t a bad idea.
You will need each other – one to carve and the other to hold steady. Take turns. This is your life you are carving together.
Take your time. Cherish every moment. Before you know it, twenty years will pass and you will be looking up at your names, wondering where all the time went.
But once your names are carved, they are permanently etched in our hearts. And nothing can break that.
To Ali and Dylan: Here is to a life full of love and happiness and memories. Together.