Author’s Note: This is a very different piece than what I usually write. I felt there was one way to present a story, and it required a voice very different than how I typically present these posts. You’ll understand why soon enough.
Let me tell you a story; a tale of loss, the friend zone, unadmitted furry tendencies, not being able to get curly fries, unhinged friends who enable rash behavior, fake votive candles, and putting it all on the line for the person you realize is perfect for you (some of those things are only tangentially related to this story but they make the opening sound better). It is a story of realizing that what you thought you want isn’t really what you want, and by the time you realize what you want is already in front of you, you may be close to losing unless you do something reeeeaaally stupid.
It’s irreverent, sickeningly sweet, and may just convince you to take some crazy love-risks of your own. It’s the story of my best friend Hailey, and how she met her girlfriend Stephanie.
From the Ashes…
Hailey is one of the most important people in my life. I fell into her cast of characters after a chance partnership on a film class project my sophomore year of college, and in a short time I got to know her for the irreverent, crude, yet infinitely generous person she was. She understood me in a way that no other friend or relative ever had before. That year we either saw or talked to each other about every single day. We even share a tattoo on our right wrists that reads “ODD ONE,” a Sick Puppies song we both identify with.
This story begins sometime between May and August of 2010, I never found out exactly when. Hailey went home from Montana to Alaska for the summer, and fell for a girl we’ll call “Puck” (because she plays hockey and a Shakepeare reference if you’d like), and she fell hard. Hailey is a hopeless romantic, and Puck was the enigmatic type that drives a starry-eyed lover crazy. Unfortunately, it was simply not to be. The relationship only lasted for a few months, and it was over before she even left Alaska to return to school that fall. Despite their short time together, it hit her like an asteroid.
When I met her, she still moped and scrounged for nuggets of attention from Puck that were few and far between. She was surrounded by friends, but there was a hole that a wacky band of misfits who loitered in her dorm suite couldn’t fill. I pondered how this mysterious ex could have dropped a girl this cool, but hey, her loss.
Around this time, a new addition to the party came, a soft-spoken but lonely girl named Stephanie, or Steph for short. To me it was like she just appeared out of nowhere, but apparently they met because mutual friends decided they should hook up the only two lesbians they knew. Because of her general awkwardness, Hailey jokingly referred to her as a “charity case,” which eventually was shortened to “CC,” and that was twisted into the nickname “Cecil.” It became quickly obvious that Stephanie had a crush on Hailey (just about everyone did at some point), but alas, she still yearned for her lost love up north. Steph endeared herself to the rest of the group, and we all whispered the two should get together, but the wound Puck left was too strong.
Christmas vacation came along, and while she was back home in Alaska, Hailey experienced a profound epiphany: She liked Steph back. Great, right? A lovely little relationship could start when she went back to Montana, but Murphy’s Law decided to intervene. Enter “Skunk Weed” (because lulz), a girl from Steph’s hometown of Billings, Montana. She and Steph paired off over the holiday season, but it quickly became apparent that the relationship stood on rocky ground. Skunk Weed was, well, an [insert expletive of your choice]. She was distant, and often more concerned with the ganja than her girlfriend, even when Steph found herself embroiled in family drama.
Hailey could only stand idly by and see Steph get dragged into stressful spat after stressful spat. There were plenty of good times to be had outside of the relationship department, though. Along with the rest of the squad, Hailey and Steph enjoyed numerous nights of tipsy karaoke, concerts, heated video game matches, and nostalgic Disney marathons. Even if Hailey couldn’t be with the one she was in love with, the times they had together were an alright substitute.
But the good times never last, do they?
Cracks in the Dam
Around April, through a complex series of events, Hailey found out she would have to leave Montana State University. She was sad. Her friends were sad. I was sad.
…Oh yeah, and Steph was sad.
It seemed like that would have to be the end of that little crush: They enjoyed the rest of the school year together, part as friends, no romance ever manifesting, with the promise of keeping in touch. As bittersweet as the situation seemed, the fates decreed another shakeup would be made.
It seemed like just another Saturday night: karaoke, drinks, and good friends. As the night wound down and people began passing out, Hailey and Steph found themselves out on the front porch, talking and observing the stars above in Montana’s beautiful big sky. Hailey, seemingly out of nowhere, told Steph she loved her. The act was intended innocuously and platonically (she says that to all of her close friends). It was not taken that way. Steph feared Hailey’s sister had spilled the beans about still liking Hailey despite her relationship with Skunk Weed. Steph immediately ran from the apartment. Hailey chased her down and demanded they talk.
Oh look, a literal chase, just like a damn romantic comedy.
Fire, Meet Gasoline
What followed was a series of arguing, crying, more arguing, and more crying that all ended in ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) in the back of Steph’s car. By the time the dust cleared and the sun rose, it was clear the paradigm had shifted. Guilt weighed on Steph’s heart, and Hailey knew a decision had to be made: pursue the one she loved, or leave her paramour behind in Montana.
After days of rumination and encouragement from friends, Hailey came to her decision: She would lay it all on the line in a GRAND proclamation of love. She began with a scrapbook of photos and song lyrics that reminded her of their time together. The gift needed impeccable presentation though. She returned to her suite at a time she knew no one else would be around. She covered all of the windows, lined the living room with fake, battery-powered votive candles (no open flames allowed in university housing, of course), and topped it all off with a looped video of a fireplace playing on the television (my idea, by the way). Like a lesbian Don Juan, she lay in wait for her lady love.
Hailey’s sister lured Steph in by suggesting they stop by before going off to run some errands. Then, there Hailey was, holding the book with a glowing grin on her face. There was much crying, and laughing, and more crying, and more laughing. They both knew it, the red string of fate bound them together. By the end of the day, Skunk Weed was kicked to the curb, and this little lesbian love liaison became official.
The Destiny Bond
Plans for the next year were shuffled. Instead of going back to Alaska or to Arizona, Hailey followed Steph back to Billings. They lived there for a few months until it was Steph’s turn to follow as they moved to Alaska. One of these leaps of faith was much larger than the other, but everything seems to have worked out all right since then.
My knowledge of the life stories gets spotty from here. They both returned to school; lived, worked, and loved in Alaska. We’ve kept in touch over the years, but we seem to talk more often about gay undertones in Fire Emblem than what we’re up to in our real lives. Actually there are no undertones to Soleil. Hailey got into drawing adult-rated furry art for commissions (as you do, there’s pretty good money in that apparently). They graduated just this month (June 2016), and plan to move to California, where Steph has received a full ride scholarship to graduate school.
Oh, and something else happened.
For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls
Remember how I initially referred to the two as girlfriends? That was a ruse, Hailey was a figment of my imagination and Steph was the ghost the whole time!
Nah, what actually happened was in November of 2015, I woke up to a text message from Hailey proclaiming she proposed to Steph. After close to five years together, my initial reaction was “About damn time.”
Her Facebook quaked as hundreds of likes and comments poured in on the announcement. The date was set for June, new last names had to be arranged, plane tickets needed to be booked, and sleeping spaces had to be corralled. The chaotic preparation was on, but the shining day was in sight.
I even got an ego stroke out of it: In the moments before the ring was unveiled, Hailey’s nerves flared. It was the moment that would set her life’s course. She looked to our shared tattoo and remembered my encouragement for her to lay it all on the line years ago, and how I probably would have had some nerdy thing to say for encouragement (which probably would have been a Gurren Lagann quote).
Uncork the Bubbly
You may be asking, why is this story being posted on a motivation blog? And if you’re down here at the bottom, why are you asking that? The lesson is clear!
Take a chance on love.
In fact, don’t just take a chance. Go beyond the impossible and do something wild, rash, and crazy for the person you want more than anything else in this world. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by and leave you only with “it might have been.” Yes, sometimes (or rather, very often) things in life don’t work out, but without a dramatic roll of the dice, you’ll never know if it even would have.
So here I am in Alaska, posting this story the morning of the wedding. In a few hours I’ll watch my best friend walk down the aisle (or maybe she’s not the one doing the walking, I don’t know how these same sex weddings are supposed to work) to marry the love of her life. There will be many happy tears. They’ll cry, family will cry, friends will cry, I’ll probably cry. I’ll always remember this story, her drive, her heart, and the brash stupidity to do something crazy for love. Maybe this story will inspire you like it has for me.
Also I couldn’t fit this in anywhere else, but this is for you Hailey: