Moving to Wisconsin from Georgia a whole year ago was scary.
I didn’t know anybody, and I was worried that I wouldn’t make any friends.
I’m annoying, weird, and try too hard to make people laugh.
Surely everybody would see that.
But moving here was one of the best experiences of my life thus far.
I met incredible people who accepted me as a friend and eased my fears about moving to an unfamiliar place.
I have a hard time expressing how much people mean to me.
It’s awkward and uncomfortable for me, and I’d just rather tell a terrible joke.
I don’t like to be vulnerable.
But I decided that it needed to be done.
Maybe putting it in blog form is cowardly of me.
But I struggle to find words of sentimental truth in person.
So, here are 18 people that have inspired me with their friendships and made me feel loved.
Because of y’all, and many others, I have learned to call Madison my home.
I’m so sorry if this weird.
So, in alphabetical glory:
Abi Zimmer Christian: I was only friends with you because you would feed me good food at your apartment. Just kidding. But, you have really nice food. At Monday morning manuscript studies, I always wanted to be your partner. Trying to figure out what God “really” meant was more fun with you. I don’t remember what the passage was, but I remember we decided that God wanted us to go in the purse making business. You were my favorite lunch companion. I’m glad that I became so convincing at getting you to eat in public. You give great hugs, cuz I can lift you up! I wish I loved poetry so you would like me more. I have so many friendly memories with you: eating carbs with our carbs, thrift store shopping, all the times I invited myself over to your place, drinking good beer with you, instagrammed photos with you, lunch time conversations, and just good conversation in general. You’re beautiful, and you mean so much to me!
Adam and Chrissy Jeske: If I didn’t have y’all, I wouldn’t have anybody to make fun of me when I said things like, “Wow, the snow is thick!” Living with you guys has been a wonderful experience. I’ve learned a lot about adulthood from you guys. Maybe that should be your next book: How to be an adult by Jeske & Jeske. The following chapters would be included: Trivets, What Warm Socks Look Like, Which Parts of the Vegetable Are Supposed to Be Cut and Eaten, and Don’t Boil Water for 30 Minutes. One day I want to be able to cook the kind of dinners that Chrissy does without having to look at any type of recipe. I’ll never forget the day I made your kids cry by cooking improperly cooked Chicken Curry in a Hurry.
Thanks for letting me experiment new recipes to “get the hang” of this cooking thing. Adam, you’re a great car pool buddy… Nushi continues to live because of your persistence. Chrissy, I like that you “do yo’ own thang”, even if that means no knowledge of Pop Culture. It’s a pretty endearing quality.
I’m sorry that I’m so incredibly selfish, but it’s something I’m praying about.
You guys have always done a great job of treating me like one of the family. Like taking me to the county fair to see the barbaric antics of demolition derby, letting me pose in your family portrait with a mustache, letting me convince you to paint your dining room table with chalk paint, occasionally turning the heat on in the winter for my southern bones, and laughing at my stupid jokes. I’m sure there are hundreds of other things that I could say about living with y’all and what I’ve learned from y’all. I hope that maybe you learned a little something from me as well. I’m not sure what…maybe my stay with you could be a grand ol’ object lesson for your children reminiscent of Arrested Development’s one armed guy. “Eat your vegetables kids, or you’ll end up like that girl Becky who was only s’pose to be here for six months…” Oh, and you have wicked smart kids that don’t annoy me all the time. Your family is super fun and love. If I ever have a family, I hope it’s as cool as yours. Maybe I’ll name my first born child Jeske. Or maybe not.
Bethany Horvath: Southern Transplants in the Midwest! That actually sounds like a good blog name… Remember that one time all last winter when we were like, “What’s this white cold stuff?” You get me! I love sitting and talking with you. I love hearing your Southern accent and feeling like I’m home in the South. You have a super cute laugh that makes me want to make you laugh more. Your excitement about Urbana12 is intoxicating! I can’t help but be super excited when I hear you talk about it. I can’t wait to volunteer at Urbana and see your hard work in person.
Dan Burnett: After getting over the unapproachable first impression, I’ve discovered you’re actually quite approachable. You’re easy to talk to, and you always make me laugh. Thanks for feeding me chicken, beer, and more recently MRE food. And thanks for your encouragement and tips with my weight loss journey. I know that you’re all Soldier of the Year and stuff, but I still expect you to send me more tips and tricks in the future for weightloss. Sometimes I think I have you figured out in all your weirdness, and then you’ll surprise me, you esoteric enigma, you! My greatest achievement in life is getting you hooked on Psych. Thank you so much for all that you do for Tuesday night dinners. Don’t let those dinners die! I’m sorry for emasculating you at the movie theater that one time. (Anybody who was not there and reading this is probably very confused.) You’re incredibly kind and secretly a good person (which I think you try to hide). And I don’t really think you’re a pretentious dick.
David Hui: Asking me to co-write this rom-com screen play with you was one of the most flattering moments of my life. Meeting with you and working on it on a regular basis has kept me sane during my uncreative barista career. I still remember the moment we both came to the same conclusion on how the story would end. I remember we both sat there with really stupid grins on our faces as we decided the fates of Ruth, Aaron, and Rebekah. That twist will inspire America! I often wondered what the other patrons of the coffee shop think when we say things like, “What’s funnier?” and “Now Aaron is black.” “Now Aaron is bi-racial.” Start practicing the autograph you’re going to give to our movie fans. Also, you’re sneaky cool.
Drew Larson: I think it’s funny that we’ve never worked together, but are still friends. That’s the power of friendship! One day I’d like to do a standup comedy routine with you on live television for millions to see. I don’t know if it’s ever been done before, but that’s the great thing about ‘Merica. You’re probably the most positive person I’ve ever met in my life. And I can’t help but always be in a good mood whenever you’re around. I love that you laugh at everybody’s jokes regardless of how terrible or great they are. (Insert high school yearbook quote about never changing.)
Ed Hsu: Ed, you make me feel like the most interesting person in the world. You’re genuinely interested in people and their life stories. You ask deep questions that make me have to search myself and find the answers. I always felt incredibly honored when you would visit and stay more than 60s seconds at my cube or at the editors. You’re my favorite bartender, after Jesus, that is. I wish that I could pack you up and take you to Philly so you could bring alcohol to all the incredible parties I will host in Philly. One of my favorite moments with you was the photo shoot for the faces of a worship leader. It makes me laugh just thinking about you. Your love of Jesus is beautiful. You speak truth. You speak words of encouragement often. And you’re a strange guy, all the more reason that you and I should be friends. One day I will forgive you for dragging me to see the horrible movie Snow White and the Huntsman. I was incredibly honored and happy to see you and Wendy get married. I love you both!
Elizabeth Toman: I think we’re both serious contenders for the Most Kickingest Curves competition. It’s a real thing! I think I first started liking you at the square dancing at the Jeskes. I couldn’t ask for a better par’dner. I thought you were older because you exude maturity and confidence far beyond your years. When I’m with you I can’t help but wish I was as confident as you. You’re one of those people that whatever you say, I’d believe it. Which could be dangerous… I love your sense of humor, and I love that we can be goofy together. Being in the Christmas skit with you was one of my favorite memories at the NSC. I’m still waiting for you to tell me the really story of Christmas over coffee…
Glenn Griffin: Nevermind, I’ll find someone like a Jew.
Names with alliterations are superior to those that are not. I remember the moment that I realized that you are hilarious. You were on the phone with me while I was in California, and you were coaching me on fund development. I don’t even remember what you said to me, but I remember being like, “dude! He’s a clever dude!” You made me feel so welcome at the NSC, even though I was a lowly intern. You’re really good at acclimating the interns to NSC life. You take time to invest in them. And that’s wonderful. I’m sure others wouldn’t want to deal with some insecure snot-nosed recent college graduate. But, when I was super insecure about being on the team, you helped me to feel like I really belonged. And I thank you for that. I love epically losing to you in Words with Friends. I also like playing “spot the excessive apostrophe” game with you. Grammar is a forgotten art. And you, sir, are the master of it. Hands down, the best part of the day at the NSC was getting anecdotes from you at your cube. It was even better when you’d come to my cube…I honestly love being interrupted. It’s the extrovert in me. I appreciate the hours you sat with me on that dang Urbana video offering feedback, even though you hate that packing scene. You’re welcome for the Jew jokes. May you constantly live in a puddle of God!
Grete Bauder: My first impressions of you were that you were so cool and sassy that you wouldn’t want to be friends with me, and I was nervous about pursuing a friendship with you. So, I volunteered to help you move. And then I discovered that you’re SUPER friendly (and still sassy)! I feel that you value deeply connecting to people and not having superficial fluffy relationships. That’s what I like about you. And you make me laugh. And your artwork never ceases to impress me. Your fashion sense is insane (in a good way). I love that we both NEED hugs and snuggling from each other! You will always have a snuggling companion in me!
Katie Smies: I remember the first time I met you. I was like, “She’s quiet. I don’t foresee us being that close.” I was suuuuuper wrong. And then I was nervous to ask for your phone number. I’m thankful that you and I were in the same City Group, even though you wanted to be in that other one. I love drinking wine and eating chocolate things with you. Actually, I think most of our adventures revolve around food—sweet foods. And THAT is the greatest. They also revolve around us trying to figure out the XY chromosome. (We’re no way close to having their secrets unlocked.) You inspire me with your classical taste in clothing and your ability to match. You give GREAT hugs, and I’m not just saying that because you converted your hug style for me. You’re probably the person I feel the closest to in Madison. You’re so wonderful and a delight to hang with! The adventures of Kate and Bex don’t end because I’m moving. Also, I owe you $4 for the spicy cheese bread we shared...
Laura Li: You inspire me with your sense of order and organizational skills. I can’t imagine how much easier my life would be easier if I had a teensy bit of your skills. I’m so sorry for annoying you in the Graphics Room with singing and dancing and hiccupping. I love Disnerd nights (when I could make it). And I love that one of your favorite Disney movies is Mulan like me! I feel incredibly accomplished whenever I can make you laugh. (I give myself mental high fives.) I only regret that we didn’t spend more time together one-on-one as opposed to in larger group. You’re so darn creative! I can’t wait to see what’s next in blogdom for you.
Laura Strasser: I wasn’t sure if I liked you your first week at IV. But I decided that I did after you were a wonderfully kind person when you took care of me after I became hallucinogenetically ill at Greek Conference. (Don’t google hallucinogenetically. It may not be a real word.) I think we are kindred spirits with our more “liberal” beliefs on the Christian faith and how that looks in modern society. It’s encouraging to find other people who think like me and know how to properly use profanity. Also, I love that we are both weirded out by kids. I bet God is going to punish us with 8 children each. Dancing and singing karaoke together at the wedding was suuuuper fun! Also, I’m still waiting to hear your album. Holla’ at me when it’s out, and I’ll buy it. Remember to just keep on dancing!
Lynde Hobbs: You are super woman to me. You cook and share gourmet food with people you love. You love parties and planning them. You love children. You love all people. You’re the ultimate princess in my book. I’ve never in my life seen you mad or sad. In everything you literally give glory back to God. I think that oftentimes when I hear other Christians talk about being blessed, it often comes across as tacky and fake. But you’re the real deal. And I love it! Some Southern man gonna make a real fine trophy wife outta you one day! ;p
Matt Kirk: Master Kirk…Captain Kirk…You’re the best darn sensei a production padawan could ask for. I know now that refusing to feed me on my first shoot with 2100 was just part of my training to be a better filmmaker. I’ve probably asked you the stupidest questions an intern could ever ask, and you’ve always answered them graciously by pretending my questions weren’t dumb. (I swear I have a learning disorder or something.) Thanks so much for the countless times I asked you to watch and give feedback on all of the videos I worked on. Thanks for all the photos you’ve taken of me that have become Facebook profile pics. I will always appreciate and remember you creeping over my computer screen from your desk. Your sense of humor is a bit weird, but I respect that and realize that it’s still funny. Thanks to you and Sarah for your hospitality with Tuesday night dinners and my birthday dinner. I’m suuuuuuper excited that you and Sarah are parents. I look forward to seeing all the pictures of Emma growing up on Facebook.
Vicki & Kylene—Or, should I say Vylene or Kicky? I don’t know if it’s offensive or not to consider you two a single entity, but you often come up in my brain like that. Matt Kirk asked me what sort of wisdom I would pass on to new people at the NSC. I told him that the best advice I could give would be to become friends with the two of you. You two throw the best parties, Oscar Party, Corn maze and pumpkin picking party, Halloween Party, Christmas tree lighting party, Glee season finale party, and others that I can’t think of. I always felt so welcomed by the two of you my first few months at the NSC and in Wisconsin. You guys should be the NSC welcoming committee. Y’all are such a blast!
I hope that none of that was too painful.
You all are so incredibly wonderful, and I love you all.
So, don’t go all Gotye on me and be “somebody that I used to know”.
“I thank my God every time that I remember you.”