aly

So, I have this little problem. In an effort to do something REALLY well, I tend to end up procrastinating on it. Thus, this WAAAAYYYY overdue blog post. I received a ridiculously awesome and unexpected package from my friend, Aly, in the mail in late February (I had to check the date today). And I knew I wanted and *had* to publicly tell the world how absolutely incredible this woman is. I wanted to just do the perfect post. And due to depression and lack of motivation and feeling like I never had the time and laziness and all of that crap, I never did one. And because I got in my head that this was the ONLY way to thank her, I never called her or wrote her or did anything because I was going to surprise *her* the way she surprised me, but again … no. I didn’t.

I tell you this because I just want to be honest and say that this is way overdue. I’m embarrassed. But I want to be honest about my shortcomings. I want to say that it was wrong. I should have just called and said, “Aly. What an awesome thing to come home to. Thank you so much. I miss you.” And then, I could have written this blog post whenever I got around to it, and it still would have been an extra, bonus surprise. But this is life, and it is messy and imperfect, so here we are.

Let me tell you about Aly. I met her a couple of years ago, through my friend, Bill. She got to know a bunch of my friends and was quickly integrated into my friend circle. Everyone loves Aly. She’s smart and funny and has that great Midwestern sensibility about her — down to earth and quick to lend a hand and even quicker to bring delicious food. She’s an amazing host and a fast friend. I really loved getting to know her. She’s really good with the small details, which as anyone worth anything at all will tell you, is really a valuable asset in any relationship, and becomes invaluable in a friendship. I fail in that respect all the time.

Aly joined a book club I was in … the treatmaster would rotate every three months or so, and Aly took the commitment at one point. Normally, the treatmaster would just bring store-bought cookies that people would eat before the meeting and during our little coffee klatch, but Aly … not Aly. She would bring homemade cookies, bars, cakes and pies from her very own kitchen to the meetups. People already loved Aly for her friendly smile and kindhearted personality, but there is no surer way to someone’s heart than their sweet tooth.

And really, her baked goods were just an outward manifestation of the sweetness that is inside Aly. But we sure did get spoiled by those treats, we did. Here’s the deal: Aly worked for a law firm or something like that when she lived in Chicago — but her heart was always really in the kitchen. Some of her friends nicknamed her “Martha” cause she was such a whiz with things that would have left us baffled. She made homemade ice cream. She made homemade marshmallows. She made crazy good cake, pie and bars. (Did I mention the BARS!?)

But for reasons I have yet to really understand, Aly decided that Chicago was no longer for her. Expenses were high on her list of reasons, and who am I to argue? But I was sorely disappointed at the thought of losing a close friend; Michigan isn’t very far away, but I know what it’s like when people sometimes even just move to the suburbs … it becomes hard to keep in touch. I’ll own it all; it’s hard to keep up the closeness and the camaraderie of seeing someone once, twice, sometimes three times a week. I was saddened at the thought of not having Aly around.

As is the standard in my group of friends, Aly had a going away party. I went, and was lucky enough to be one of the last people there … and then the last. We talked about all sorts of things — things we had seen and done, secrets shared, hopes we had for our futures and memories that made us smile. I had ridden my bike over to Aly’s house that night, and by the time I left, the sun was coming up and I meandered the streets back to my apartment over near the lake. As I reached my intersection, I realized that the times that I actually had the opportunity to see the sun rise over the lake were few and far between, so I ought to go the 1/2 block more over to the bike trail and down to the beach to catch the sun coming up over Lake Michigan. I did, and caught a little piece of this:

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It was a nice way to cap off a great evening. Aly did move back home to Michigan and I’ve kept up with her pursuits through Facebook. She’s continued to bake — she’s endeavoring to create a granola line, although I’ve always had greater plans for her in *my* mind. I want her to start a Kickstarter or a Fundly or what-the-fuck-ever and get money to start her own bakery. I know that just like all the cupcake queens before her, she will rise to the top and win over hearts and minds with her skills in the kitchen. She might make it with granola, but she will kill it with her cooking.

She’s also started writing for several local publications up in her hometown and that’s pretty rad, too. I must say that I do wish she could do all of that right here in my fine city, because I’m just so selfish that way.

But not Aly. I don’t think she has a selfish bone in her body. I got to see her as a surprise at a party I had this winter, and I was completely taken back when I arrived home this winter to find a small package addressed to me. It contained a small note card (with a cupcake on the front, natch) and inside was a note from Aly — she said that she was going through some boxes when she got home; she remembered that I loved cufflinks and that when she found these, she thought of me and sent them along. I was floored. First, that she remembered such a simple, small thing about me and then, that she took the time to send them to me. Clearly, I can’t remember to take the time to write a thank you note, make a phone call or get around to writing the blog posts I want to.

So. Here are the pictures of my rad, new cufflinks. And here is my thank you and tribute to my good friend, Aly, who I miss so much and who I treasure. Aly, this is long overdue, but thank you. Thank you. You are truly one of the good ones. Namaste, lady.

Rad cufflinks (there’s ones with super awesome snouts!):

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