I'm going to talk for a few minutes about my friend Krista, formerly known as New Neighbor Friend. I think when I first mentioned her here, back in January, I said something about wanting to give our new friendship some room to breathe and grow. Well it's breathing, and it's grown.

I've wanted to post about her for so long that now I'm not sure where to start. She's someone I spend time with almost every week, and talk to almost every day. Sometimes we text through the entire day. Out of nowhere, in other words, I have a buddy. She's a legit presence in my life. If that sounds like an odd way to describe a friend, it's because I'm still getting used to it. In fact sometimes I get awkward around her, I guess because I'm scared of screwing things up, or I'm still shy about opening up so much to another woman. My closest friends, from middle school onward, have mostly been guys.

I really fell for her on St. Patrick's Day. She was so fun loving, so willing to step out of her comfort zone (not a big fan of crowds, and typically eschews the St. Paddy's Day scene) for the sake of getting to know me. We got a little drunk and we got a little wild, dancing with strangers and ducking through the crowd, hand in hand at one point. Sometimes she makes me feel fourteen again. Other times I find myself surprised at how much I can learn from someone ten years my junior.

Krista is a crackerjack. She's the kind of person people over the age of fifty call a pistol. She'll strike up a conversation with anyone, about anything. She's the girl at the bar everyone wants to chat up, outgoing and funny and friendly to a fault. In fact sometimes I get all mama bear around her, because pushy guys (she's beautiful), and because she's younger than me. Not that she needs me to; it's just a funny thing I find myself feeling. Big sister-ish? I don't know.

We talk about family, relationships, blogging (she also has a non-monetized personal blog), what we're reading, our goals and plans. I love listening to her talk about the people in her life. She's more patient, more forgiving, and much more selfless than me, and I find it really inspiring. Plus, she's a fiercely devoted dog mom like me, which is a big thing for us to connect over. When I asked if she belonged to a gym she said no, because she was content to work out at home and in our building's fitness room. She said if she had time to spare for futzing around going to and from a gym, it was time she'd rather devote to giving the dogs a good, long walk. I love that.

Living in the same building, we deal with a lot of the same day-to-day stuff. Rental office issues, neighbor issues, leasing issues, apartment issues. Hell, we text one another pictures when we kill a really big bug. All this gives our friendship an almost sitcom-like quality, making it extra fun.

She brings me treats when she bakes. I got her soup when she was sick. When I told her I wanted to get more comfortable with my dSLR, the next morning she left a stack of handwritten flashcards about camera settings/function outside my door. I check on her pups when she's out. Once, when she came back from our favorite sushi place, she brought me edamame, rushing home so they'd still be hot. I got her one of those Wrap Up hair tool thingies, because her hair looks so great in messy buns. We confess clothing splurges to one another. I make dumb gifs to crack her up and bring her the occasional goody from Whole Foods. Yesterday, knowing it was the third anniversary of my dad dying, she got me flowers. Figured you might need a little pick-me-up today, she said. My other friends who've met her, dig her. Terence loves her. Chaucer adores her.

I know, I'm gushing. But I'm doing it just this once to establish context, for future references to this Important Character.

She makes me feel empowered, is what I told Terence. Just knowing that I can call or text her about any dumb thing. That she's there to listen and rant to and laugh with, whenever. I'm blessed with a small group of really amazing people I get to call friends, but most of them aren't right there, right around the corner literally or figuratively. Krista's geographical closeness is a gift in itself, but the real treasure is her considerate nature and emotional availability. I'm calling her my early 40th birthday present from the universe - one I plan to keep for a very long time.