We haven’t known Chandler, 18, or Maggie, 17, long, but we’re certain of three things about these best pals: (1) They aren’t afraid of a challenge; (2) they adore each other; and (3) they are very, very serious about staying properly hydrated. They’ll tell you why!
TO: [email protected]
SUBJECT: Friend Crush (Long Distance Can Sometimes Work)
I’ve been reading Friend Crushes for a few years now, and whenever I do, they remind me of how amazingly grateful I am for my best friend/soulmate Maggie. Maggie is 17 and lives in Pennsylvania, which is sad for me because I’m 18, live in Upstate New York, and don’t have my license.
I first met Maggie when I was about eight, at the annual weekend-long reunion of the camp we’re both connected to. When we met for real, and actually became friends, though, was two summers ago. I was 16 and she was 15, and we went on a 21-day National Outdoor Leadership School course in Wyoming. We lived in the wilderness the whole time—backpacking, rock climbing, cooking our own food, living in tents, not showering, and pooping only in holes we’d dug in the ground (one of our best bonding experiences). I was in awe of how badass and funny she was, never complaining about anything and always having a smile and joke to offer on tough days.
We were so close on the course, and scared we wouldn’t be able to keep it up once we weren’t living in the woods together without technology, but now we’re two of the biggest long-distance friendship advocates you could ever meet! We see each other in person when we can, text/Facebook message/email every single day, and write letters and send packages. Maggie has been there for me through every up and down I’ve had over the past two years, including some pretty big ones like switching schools and my first big breakup. Maggie is my heart, soul, and brain, and I’m 100 percent positive that my life wouldn’t be this joyful, purposeful, or reflection-filled if she weren’t in it.
ROOKIE: Hi, Chandler!
Let’s talk about Maggie! What was your first impression of her when you met her at camp?
Our camp is really leadership-based, and as a first year of leadership training, we both decided to do this wilderness program through the National Outdoor Leadership School. We didn’t really know each other, but we had this Facebook group message for the five girls who were going on the trip, and she seemed really intense and cool. She posted this picture of a necklace, and it said “♥ to Hike,” and I was so intimidated. I was like, Oh my god, she hearts to hike! What if she’s really good at hiking, and I’m not good at hiking?
What else about her Facebook presence seemed intense?
She just seemed so competent. I’m not really a hiker—I just wanted to challenge myself. But she knew the right shoes, and all the different things we needed to spend three weeks in the wilderness. I was like, Whoa, that’s so cool! even though I was preparing myself, too. It’s just that you see someone and think that they’re so much better at something than you are.
So what she like when you met in Wyoming?
She was so nice! She was super friendly right off the bat, and just really easygoing and got along with everyone. She was immediately talking to everyone on the trip, including all the guys, whom I was really shy around. But then I had a dehydration issue—I got really dehydrated, and kind of sick—and immediately she was like, “Let’s get you water” and hung out with me to make sure I was OK.
So that’s how you kinda figured out that you’d be hanging out with her maybe more than the other people in the group?
Yeah, I mean it’s interesting—we were friends on the trip, but there were a few of us who were pretty close. We had similar mindsets: We really wanted to challenge ourselves, and we were super into the outdoors. But Maggie and I really became close after the trip. Everyone tried to stay in touch, but we were the two who actually did. We were on this really intense course, and then afterward it was like, What do I do with myself? I’ve been making my own food and carrying everything I need on my back for three weeks. There was kind of this feeling of, Oh, OK, so now I’m just sitting at my house? There’s a sink? There’s a toilet? Maggie and I were both kind of sad, so we talked to each other all the time—like about our feelings, and we found articles online and sent them to each other. We were the two who maintained it, and really got what the other was feeling.
Were there things you had in common that surprised you when you were getting to know each other after the trip?
Yeah. On that kind of trip, you don’t know anything about anyone’s academics or anything like that—you’re just getting their personality. We both love Taylor Swift, but on the trip, we were both like, Oh she probably doesn’t like Taylor Swift—she’s too cool for that. Afterward, we were like, “We were so stupid! We could have been singing Taylor Swift that whole time!” And then this spring we went to a Taylor Swift concert together.
What was that like?
It was so fun to be together because we never get to. I took the train to meet Maggie, as part of my graduation present. I got to meet all her friends and stay in her house—we’re best friends, but she’s never been to mine. And also, we’re obsessed with Taylor! We had the furthest seats ever—our backs were against the back of the stadium—but it was just so much fun. I literally cried.
What was it like hanging out with Maggie at her house, instead of, like, in the wilderness or on the internet?
We’ve skyped, so I’ve seen her side of her room, because she shares a room with her sister. But I’d never seen the other half. I’d never seen her desk or anything. It was just so funny!
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ROOKIE: Hi, Maggie!
I talked to Chandler earlier today, and she said you guys first started getting to know each other over Facebook. What did she seem like to you then?
I knew she was super into the trip, and she was definitely already leading the group, even in conversation. I think she was the one who started the group message, with all of us who were going on the trip. She had lots of feedback and advice for everyone, from people she’d talked to and articles she’d read. She already seemed comfortable, which was nice.
Now that you know her really well, what are some of your favorite things about Chandler?
She’s super self-aware, which is really cool. She knows herself, and she knows other people. She thinks really deeply about a lot of things that happen—she’s not shallow at all, which is cool. She gets so into anything she does, and she always has really, really, really good advice. I overwhelm myself a lot, and I’ll go to her about it, and she’ll be like, “Nope! You need to stop doing that right now!” She’s good at giving it to me straight. She’s very honest.
What’s some of the best advice she’s ever given you?
Usually it’s about my health—even my mental health. If I’m overwhelming myself with school or something, she’s able to help remind me of what my priorities are, and help keep me grounded.
She told me about how she came to visit you so you could see Taylor Swift together. What was it like introducing her to your friends at home?
That was kinda hectic! She already knew so much about them, and they knew so much about her, that with some of them, she already had the impression that I’d given her—she walked right up to some of them and gave them hugs and said, “I’ve heard so much about you! I feel like I know you!”
What’s Chandler’s favorite Taylor Swift song?
“Out of the Woods.”
What are some of your other common interests, besides the wilderness and Taylor?
We’re both into health and having awareness of how our bodies are working—we’re both hydration nerds! Water geeks—I think that’s the term she uses.
That’s funny because she mentioned that you helping her rehydrate was one of the things that formed your bond!
Yeah, that’s how we got into hydration! If you’re walking miles and miles a day with 50 pounds on your back, you have to stay hydrated.
What’s her hiker-personality like? Is she different when she’s on the trails?
Yes. She always has her head together on the trail. She’s definitely a leader. She’s a runner, so she’s really strong. Her confidence makes other people feel comfortable.
What else should we know about Chandler?
She’s just awesome. She puts so much into school and her friends and extracurriculars. She always makes time to talk or skype. On Friday nights if we’re both at home, we’ll have a Taylor Swift dance party. She’ll always make time for what matters—she just has her priorities really straight.
She sounds really cool.
She is! ♦
(Interviews by Lena.)
Are you hiking to the top of Mt. Friendship with someone Friend Crush-able? Tell us about them at [email protected]! Please include both of your names and ages and a big, clear filter-free picture of each of you. Thank you!