Jessa came to me in the middle of my sister's bachelorette party.
I was sitting next to one of Blanche's best friends and she was telling me this story about chasing the sunrise up a flight of stairs after a horrible break-up. It was a simple story born out of a beautiful friendship, and things just sort of clicked into place. I knew even then that there would be a scene in book two that centered on this incredible friendship between two characters and their fight to believe in the hope of another day.
Stephanie needed someone who believed in the possibilities of beauty and hope winning out in the end not because this person felt sorry for her, but because she genuinely liked her. There was no catch in their relationship — no hidden motive. It was the only way Stephanie would be able to truly heal, really. She had to experience relationships that weren't based on a level of currency (whether it be actual currency or the currency of love).
With eight days before the release of SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER AND SKY, I want to take a moment to celebrate those friendships in our lives that have meant something. For me, there are numerous memories that served in the completion of this novel.
A few years ago I road tripped with one of my closest friends. It was on that trip I first encountered Sunset Cliffs and saw Diane Keaton on the pier. We even ran into a traveling poet, although his name wasn't Fitz and I didn't get a poem (a decision I regret to this day). I fell in love with Southern California, and as I stood on the edge of the world and watched the waves crash beneath me, a girl walked up behind us and climbed down into a hidden cave and pulled out her journal to write. I remember grabbing my friend's arm.
"Ohmigod. That's Stephanie. That's Stephanie. I don't know how I know it but I know it...I'm kinda freaking out right now."
I'm still thankful for Prudence not using that moment to solidify my lunacy, but actually believing me and joining in with the train of thought.
"Take a picture," she said. "You'll want to remember this moment when you write book two."
She was in my kitchen getting lessons in chicken-management. Russ walked away for a moment, and I took the chance to take advantage of the extra space and fill up my drink.
I was turning away when her fingers wrapped around my wrist. She opened her mouth, paused, and then nodded before finally speaking, a trait I've come to know as her brief moment of making sure this is the right and good thing to say.
"I was talking to someone about you the other day, and in mentioning your name, I said 'one of my best friends, Elora Ramirez' and that got me thinking, you know? And I realized that yeah. You're one of my best friends. And I'm thankful."
I'm fairly certain I won the award for awkward response, because I can't for the life of me remember what I said, but I do remember being deeply moved by the way in which our friendship jumped to another level of trust and camaraderie after that moment because how did she know? I was labeling her the same way, although not publicly, and definitely not in a way I even realized until she said the words.
To this day, when I'm needing a dose of truth, or even if it's a moment of bathing in the sun with a thermos full of blackberry soda and vodka, I know I can go to Ritz.
We were huddled together, shivering in the brisk late evening air of November. The moon was almost right above us and our hands were shaking (although you could debate whether this was from the cold or the lavender liqueur).
"I just need you to know I have trouble connecting with people because I'm afraid they're going to leave me."
I stopped cold at her words, not really knowing what to say. This was the one who brought a greasy hamburger, french fries and a milkshake to my house during the worst week of my life. In my head, we already kind of went together, and so to hear this fear surprised me in a way I wasn't anticipating.
How did you know this was my fear too? was what was running through my head, but what came out of my mouth (and proved to be it's own prophetic word) was "you don't have to worry about me. I'm not going anywhere."
Three months later, I'm leaving her house after her birthday party and she grabs my hands and looks me in the eyes.
"Where you go, I would go. I would move wherever you moved...." she smiled. "I mean, within reason."
I think, in this moment I knew what it meant to have a person.
When I'm flailing or losing momentum or lost in my own mind, I'll go to Sarah. She's a buoy who holds up the mirror when I need it the most.
There are other moments for sure — the walks along Jekyll Island where I first learned of storm wood, the miles spent driving up and down I-35 and other highways in order to attend a book signing of an author I respect, the numerous tattoo stories and emails and moments of connection.
But I want to hear your story. How has friendship changed you? Who is your person? What are the moments in which you and those closest to you chased the sunset or made an impulsive decision in order to suck the marrow out of life? Tell me. Use the Check Yes graphic above in your post if you like.
And then come back here and link up your post so we can remember the beauty of relationships around us. All I ask is that you include the Amazon link for SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER AND SKY somewhere in your post. And, if you've read the book, I'd love to hear how Jessa and Stephanie's relationship have inspired you.