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Nicole Y.

It is funny how many things we take for granted. We can all point out something we know that we could appreciate more. Life is filled with little things that are often overlooked. That is, until this moment is paired with an equally small moment. This is a dangerous formula for detecting nostalgia before any time even passes. The smell of popcorn, a snowman after a winter storm, exploring a book box with someone special.

I was told recently that I should focus on more things we are thankful for. And, unquestionably, after today, this person was right. It was not the first time I had heard this concept. With that, I would like to get into my first thank you. These won't always be personal shoutouts, but there are some I need to cover right off the bat. Nicole is an easy no-brainer for the launch post.

I am actually typing this while pounding my face with a burger and a shake, thanks to Nicole's kind heart, who ordered me DoorDash moments after metaphorically talking me off a ledge this evening. Nicole is someone who wants the absolute best for everyone around her. Her personality reflects her infectious positivity and closeness with God. I do not doubt that she is the *cool* teacher on the staff.

During the brief few months we had left, when we were together, it was like we were finding a way to maximize every minute. It was Nicole who was able to help me see the light in what I felt was a neverending tunnel of darkness. I even began to go to church on Sundays and drink tea, not because Nicole told me to, but because she has a way of showing why they are essential. The choice was always up to me.

Admittedly, I have a character flaw that cuts out people who may emotionally hurt me from my life without regard (snip snip). After Nicole left, I could feel this defense mechanism kick in. However, I can honestly say Nicole was the first person I could and ever did overcome that for, and it allowed for one of my favorite existing friendships.

Nicole now resides in the Mountain View area of California, not far from where she grew up. She and her boyfriend, Toby, can often be spotted on the slopes of Tahoe. My lifelong goal is now to be on their Christmas card list, which will promptly be returned with a photo of me and whatever dog I can borrow on that given day. Finally, she teaches English and Science, which she had hoped to do from the moment we met. In fact, she was helping proofread some blog posts in the early days.

So, Nicole, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me. I am incredibly thankful for our friendship and wish you nothing but the most incredible things wherever life takes you. Keep being you.

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