An Ode to My Best Friend

My best friend is a total weirdo. No, it’s not an insult. She’ll gladly admit it. She likes being different; she thinks it makes her cool. I guess it works, ’cause I think she’s totally cool.

Today is my best friend’s 30th birthday and I’m writing all about it. All about her, actually. I’m going to tell you all about my wonderful, albeit — slightly spoiled, best friend.

Dexter (as in Dexter’s Laboratory from which she gets that nickname, although no one is quite sure why) and I have one of those too-close-for-comfort kinda relationships. Like, we are so close that some (read: our husbands) may consider it borderline unhealthy. I’m pretty sure we’ll be sharing medications and one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” necklaces when we’re in our 80s. We’ll finally marry each other because our husbands will eventually die off. We’ll cuddle on the couch under a big fleece blanket and complain about how Grey’s Anatomy should have ended 45 years ago, but it just keeps on going. There are no main characters left; they all died — in some unnecessarily gruesome way. It’s not even called Grey’s Anatomy anymore; it’s now a spin-off and we’re still fucking watching it. My apologies, I digress. Anyway, today is Dexter’s 30th birthday and this is a very public “I love you.”

It all began in the summer of ’95 when my family moved from New London, CT to Philadelphia, PA. I was so used to moving that yet another move did not faze me. As I stepped out of the car onto the parking lot of our new home, a wasp stung the sole of my foot. My first step onto Philadelphia’s soil was met with pain and agony. From that moment, I made it my mission to avoid wasps at all cost. (I once left my half-naked baby on the grass and ran. Because: wasps.)

Petoni Apartments became home to my many friends and many more memories. I met Dexter shortly after we moved in. I was riding my new bike with some new friends and she and her “crew” rode right by me. She looked at me sideways, threw up her middle finger, and quickly peddled away. It was hate at first sight.

And that, kids, is how I met my best friend.

Dexter is a special human. She prefers dogs over people. She has an infectious laugh. She can’t wrap presents. She has the most beautiful smile I have ever seen on any human.

When we met I was 13 and she was 10 (going on 30). She begrudgingly agreed to allow me into her “crew.” Dexter isn’t a fan of new people. Or, people in general. As soon as I infiltrated her space, she fell in love with me. (This is how I am choosing to remember this, she may have a different opinion, but she also has a bad memory, so just believe this version.)

This past summer marked our 20 years of friendship. We have known each other since we were kids, young, stupid kids. We have cried, laughed, mocked, sang, yelled, whined, longed, and sobbed together. We have celebrated birthdays, graduations, holidays, anniversaries, weddings, showers, new jobs, and new beginnings. We have held each other through funerals and struggles and illnesses and broken hearts and life’s numerous difficulties. We have spent hours on the phone talking about nothing. We have vacationed, road-tripped, and made poor decisions together. We have fought and we have prevailed. We have grown together. We have matured.

Dexter is Sublime’s Santeria, big hoop earrings, Golden margaritas, cannolis, glass coffee tables, turnpike McDonald’s, la-la-fa, and she definitely does not have Lupus.

I love her generosity. I love how much she cares about animals and how passionate she is about rescuing dogs. I love her ability to make anyone laugh, even if it’s at her own expense. I love her political views, and her stance on justice and fairness and society and humanity. I love how honest and blunt she is. I love her smile and her face. I love her strong hands, and her slightly deformed feet. I love how she can eat until she feels like she’s dying, and how she then complains about overeating. I love that although she is so private she tells me everything. I love how considerate and kindhearted she is and I love how at the same time she has zero fucks to give about the useless things many people care about. I love how she is completely incapable of making decisions (mainly regarding small things like, which milkshake to get). I love how she sticks to routine. I love that she dresses for comfort over style. I love that she owns more sweatpants and hoodies than she does shoes. I love that she has no idea how to be girly, and yet she is stunningly gorgeous without ever having to try. I love that she allows me to make fun of her on a regular basis. I love her sarcasm, her charm, and her intellect.

Dexter drives too fast, has road rage, and curses like…well, like I do (which is a lot. Like, A LOT). She loves staying home and doing nothing. She hates big crowds and her birthdays. She enjoys holding hands and cuddling on the couch. She’s an incredibly hard worker. She never does anything half-assed. She is competitive, relentless, and unbreakable. She’s got metal in her elbow and warmness in her heart. She’s a tough cookie with a gooey middle. She’s often stubborn, seldom irrational, and always unyielding. And, get this: she’s a nurse; she saves lives. She’s incredible.

But, what I really, really love about Alla, is her ability to inspire. She is someone whom I watched grow into a young woman. An adult. I am slightly older than she is and I went through most of life’s “milestones” first. I went to college, met my husband, got married, had kids, all before she did, so in some ways I matured faster, and this difference in age gave me a slightly unique perspective. I watched her grow up not only as a friend but as a big sister would. And, let me tell you, she is inspiring. I’m so proud of the woman she has become. Strong. Powerful. Beautiful.

So, Alla, I hope your life takes you only down those paths that you would wish for yourself. I hope you live a life of peace and pleasure and love. I know you’ll be happy with any choice you ever make because you are so smart and so wise. I love you as much as you love cannoli filling. Happy 30th! You can now finally party with the big boys and girls. Love you.

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