Few moments in life feel perfect. But on a warm September afternoon, with golden light shining through the trees along a calm creek, everything felt perfect as I watched my best friend marry the love …
Few moments in life feel perfect. But on a warm September afternoon, with golden light shining through the trees along a calm creek, everything felt perfect as I watched my best friend marry the love of her life.
It was a day Paulina and I had dreamt about since we were little girls at slumber parties, staying up late and talking about what our weddings would be like someday.
Paulina and I met as fourth-graders at Southside Elementary School in the mid-1990s. Her family had just moved from Mexico, and though we didn’t speak the same language, we soon formed a friendship that has spanned 25 years and counting.
It’s fitting that I stood beside her on her wedding day, because she has been beside me through so many experiences in this life.
On the school playground, we dashed toward the swings, laughing together as we pumped our legs, swinging toward the sky.
In awkward middle school years, we sat together in the cafeteria and played volleyball on the C-team, after we didn’t advance with our more athletic friends.
High school brought ups and downs, but even at times when Paulina and I weren’t as close, we knew we were always there for each other.
That was especially apparent during our college years, when we became unexpected roommates. We both went to Northwest, and in the spring of our freshman year, Paulina’s dorm burned down. I was living in the Campus Ventures house, just down the street from the smoldering Bridger Hall. She stayed with me that evening, and we could smell the smoke as we talked late into the night.
We became roommates for the rest of the school year. The following fall, we rented our own apartment, where our friendship only deepened.
We often stayed up late talking, even if we had to get up early for work the next morning or study for an exam. We laughed together, prayed together, walked together and grew together.
So many of my best memories from those years include Paulina — and some of the worst ones, too. On the day my father suffered a stroke, Paulina rode with my mom and me to the hospital in Billings. As we faced fear and uncertainty, I knew I could count on her to be by my side, just as she had always been.
Even when miles have separated us, we’ve stayed close, visiting each other wherever life led. We walked together on the streets of Boise, Baltimore and Manhattan, discovering new shops and spending hours admiring artwork in museums. One spring break, we went to Las Vegas and found an Ansel Adams exhibit instead of going to the bars.
Our travels eventually took us to Dublin, Edinburgh, London and tiny villages in between. My path brought me back to Powell, while Paulina’s adventures continued in Australia, Thailand, Africa and elsewhere.
And yet, the years and miles don’t stand in the way of us always picking right back up where we left off — whether it’s an ordinary day or a life-changing one.
When I became a wife, Paulina stood beside me and gave a beautiful toast in honor of our many years of friendship. Then almost five years later to the day, our roles were reversed and I proudly stood beside my best friend at her wedding.
Our parents also have become close friends over the years, and our mothers each shared favorite foods for our weddings. Paulina’s mom gave me the homemade tortillas I have loved since childhood, topped with peppers and melted cheese. My mom made Paulina chocolate chip cookies, using the same beloved recipe from when she baked the treats for us during our school years.
Much like our personalities, our weddings were quite different. Mine was simple, in a classic white church on the Montana countryside, overlooking the Beartooths; Paulina’s was vibrant and colorful, set to the music of a mariachi band in a gorgeous forest setting in Colorado.
Paulina’s wedding celebrated the Mexican heritage she and her husband Carlos share. Her brother, Alex, officiated the ceremony, speaking in both Spanish and English and bringing us all to tears.
With loved ones gathered on a sunny autumn day for a beautiful ceremony — celebrating the vows of a stunning bride and the man she loves — it was a perfect wedding day. The kind that little girls dream about.