To the fabulous Miss Flanagan

Erica Zendell
May 29, 2017 · 4 min read

(To my first friend in the city the occasion of your law school graduation and departure from Boston)

Dear Katie,

I have tried writing you this essay five times over, and now, at 8:15PM on a Sunday, an unconventional two glasses of wine deep, I am finally unfiltered enough to write you this.

This makes sense, since much of this friendship was cemented by way of some heavier drinking, but, much to my contentment, had a foundation much stronger than stiff liquor.

Even though it was determined from the very first day we met, I cannot believe that you have graduated law school and will be leaving Boston. You’ve defined my last five years in more ways that you will ever know, and the attempt to summarize them in a blog post or a card for your graduation is feeble. But because I promised you that I would write something — something I hoped would be worthy of you, our friendship, and the internet — and because, if nothing else, I am a woman of my word and a woman of words, here we are. The next two times I do this, it will be for a roast at your wedding one day and writing about you in the memoir. Needless to say, you’ve earned more than just this post.

I can’t say I knew our friendship was going to be something legendary, given that it began in earnest over $3 Mystery Shots at Tavern in the Square and Monday Karaoke nights at the now-closed Fire+Ice in Harvard Square, featuring that guy who sang “My Neck, My Back” without a hint of irony. All that was certain to me at that point was that being around you would guarantee adventure, witty banter, and a lot of Pinot Grigio, all of which I needed moving to a new city, knowing few people, still incredulous that I had gotten a job offer a week before I was due to start.

Nothing gives me a greater pang of nostalgia than thinking of the patio outside of Morgan Hall at HBS, where you’d be working on your laptop and I’d be napping on a bench, flanked by the rabbits that made their home in the bushes around the campus. (We will never have jobs that easy again, will we?) On the rare occasions I find myself over by HBS, past that patio, I smile. No matter how many years pass, no matter what else people call it, it will always be “The Katie Patio” to me.

I have you to thank for helping make this city into a home for me, as you welcomed me into your fold of fellow Ephs from Williams and whoever else made their way to your crazy parties, with the free flowing “Jungle Juice” and vodka lemonade concoctions, the playlists replete with dirty hip hop music, and the notorious “Makeout Chair” (which, alas, I am too late to occupy and make out with someone in). After being in an all-female a cappella group in undergrad, hanging out with you is the closest I ever got to feeling like I was in a sorority.

Even though I know that this is not the end of our friendship — far from it if I have anything to do with it — the thought of you leaving feels like a breakup. I’ll bike through Cambridge, passing the Phoenix Landing and Hancock Street and think of your latest nights out dancing or barbecuing and playing corn hole. I’ll go to Ruka and feel compelled to order a caipirinha and start drawing a portrait on a citrus fruit at the bar, or, feeling bold, juggle a pair of limes. One day, I’ll move out of this apartment of mine and think of the day you helped me move in, eating your Potbelly sandwich and surfing on the hotel dolly.

I’ll never forget the night that we met up. a few months ago and you told me about yet another old judge whom you’d charmed during a clerkship interview. He complimented you by saying you had a sunny disposition. His observation was spot on. Because of it, the way that I now describe you to others is, “She is sunshine.” From the first day I met you, golden-haired and smiling and charmingly midwestern, you were always sunshine. I thought we’d never be friends because I’m a little more of a raincloud. But being around you meant I could never be dark and stormy for too long. I will never forget the times you came to my defense and showered me with love when I needed it most, especially in the last six months. In your final days in the city, our friendship has gone through a brilliant renaissance rivaling that of our first days here.

You party like a demon — at Storyville of all places — and excel in your law school courses. You drink like a fish and still have visible abs. You have impeccable memory for song lyrics, a phenomenal squash game, and pretty great pitch. You are going to be a fantastic lawyer and you are show-stoppingly beautiful. (How is this fair?)

Five years of friendship later, only three question remain —

  1. “u a hurricane, katrina?”
  2. “u wanna text?”
  3. How do you not have any cellulite?

These will remain as much a mystery as the shots that forged our friendship.

You are magnetic and brilliant and bold. Keep spreading your sunshine — I’ll be in withdrawal of it here in Boston, with no other choice but to chase it all the way to Chicago.

All my love and wishes for more life and more success,


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