Here is the story about how I met two of my bridesmaids, Gee and Eilis…
After I graduated high school and before I started college at Iowa State, I worked for the YMCA Summer Camp just outside of Boone, Iowa. I was familiar with this camp, as I had got here for 10 years as a camper. The first week of training, we got to know the other counselors we would be spending 99% of our time with for the next 3 months. I remember Dave “Bear” Sherry, the Y-Camp director saying, “Some of you will meet the love of your life here and some of you will make lifelong friends here.”
Next thing you know we are setting up sleeping arrangements in our counselor cabin and I hear a British girl talking on the other side of the cabin. If you were raised in a small, mid-western town filled with 99% white kids, you too might be intrigued when you hear an accent. This was me. I was drawn to this girl like a moth to a flame and couldn’t get enough of listening to her talk. I thought she has surely ended up in the wrong location because she should have been spending the summer modeling, not in hillbilly Iowa. Long perfect hair, big eyes, and a tan I couldn’t match with 6 trips to the spray-on salon, she was beautiful. She was funny. She had a good vibe.
Our first break, a bunch of the women counselors headed to Ames, Iowa to eat at Hickory Park. When we got there, we were told we had to wait for a new counselor who had a late flight and was just showing up. Please keep in mind that at this point, most of us have sun burnt noses and hairy legs from being out at camp. We see this petite little thing in her Hollister sweatshirt and converse sneakers with curly bright red hair and think wow, who did she dress up for? Not long after hearing her speak, I was in love with her accent too. She was Irish and grew up Irish dancing!! She had the most adorable phrases and sayings. It wasn’t long before the three of us were spending every waking minute together. Soon we adopted the phrase, “birds of a feather flock together” after learning where Eilis grew up, girls were called birds instead of chicks.
We spent that summer as three peas in a pod. We got in trouble together, we swam together, we worked together, and on our 1-day-off each week, we were together. One night, the three of us were on circle duty (meaning we make a fire and watch the cabins in our circle to make sure people weren’t going in and out of cabins). One minute, we were huddled together on the bench to stay warm while our fire grew, the next minute, Bear is standing over us…giving us a lecture about falling asleep at our fire instead of doing our job! Another time, we decided that we all needed another tattoo so we made an appointment to get 3 birds flying over a feather on our sides to remember the friendship that we had formed. Gee went first, proving to be the bravest. When Eilis went, I will never forget the swear words spilling out of her mouth at the speed of light.
By the end of the summer, I knew almost everything about these two girls and it turns out, Bear had been right all along, I left with two lifelong friends. Watching them go was impossible, and the tears seemed endless. We never said goodbye, only see you later. We knew this wasn’t the last time we would be together.
The very next year, I spent my spring break in London with Gee and Eilis. We saw big Ben and ate at Nando’s. We went to the clubs and spent St. Patrick’s day dancing to Irish music. When the week came to an end, we were 3 hot messes. Again, it was only see you later and not goodbye.
Two years later, after a million “I miss you”s, we spent my senior spring break in Chicago together. We shopped, ate, drank, and shopped some more but when the end of the week drew near, I became upset and tried to push my two birds out of the nest, hoping it would hurt less this time. (Stupid, but lesson learned) The girls called me out and we finished the weekend hungover and happy to be together. By now you realize, it was another see you soon and not goodbye.
When I first got engaged, I knew I wanted them to be a part of my day. I was hesitant to ask because it was a huge commitment for them. Not only would they have to buy the dress, but also book a flight, find rooms, and take time off from work. I was so overwhelmed with joy when they said yes. It didn’t matter if the rest of the wedding didn’t go as planned, if these two were by my side, it would be perfect.
Now, one is doing my hair, the other my makeup, and in every photo from our wedding, I will be reminded that two very dear people were there on the day I married Jason. I couldn’t ask for a better reminded that no matter the distance or miles apart, true friends are always close to the heart.