Happy birthday, Kristen! Our friendship goes back so far, I could have pulled out some real embarrassing photos for this, but decided one freshman shenanigans picture was enough. I remember the night I called you to tell you Erik had proposed to me. You were the first person I told and at the end of the conversation I said something to the effect of "oh and OBVIOUSLY you're the maid of honor, bye!" which I don't think was a surprise to you or anyone for that matter. I feel really lucky that our friendship has endured so much time and so many life changes without ever changing. We're still the same silly girls with weird inside jokes, but who can have deep life conversations that last through the night, too. All our text messages end with "and I miss you" because you made one stupid life decision to live not near me. I forgive you for that, though, and am just thankful Staunton isn't Boston or Tallahassee (cough cough).
You're an awesome person. Everywhere you go and everything you do, you instantly make friends because people are drawn to the sweet, funny person they see on the outside. And then those people STAY your friends because that's truly who you are. I think you're one of the most open, honest people I know. You've never pretended to be someone you're not and that's amazing because I (and plenty of people) often feel like I'm supposed to put on an act for people but you never do. I mean there's a reason you've been a bridesmaid twenty million times. It's easy to connect with you (well for girls anyway... BEST FRIEND BURN!) and I always have fun with you even if we're just grocery shopping or watching TV.
I'm so excited that this year you begin your dream job teaching those little first graders. You will love it. And I know you'll do an amazing job. I just hope you don't work yourself to death in the process. You always go above and beyond, but your students are going to feel that even if you don't work on lessons all through the night. They need your compassion more than arts and crafts, though I know you have plenty of both!
I wish I remembered how old we were when we started calling each other soulmate, but the fact that we still do says a lot. I love you and hope you have a great birthday!