- VeryMuchMeg is a blog/Twitter friend of mine. This winter she saw I was having a tough time and randomly sent me a care package full of books, socks, chocolate and random personalized things. I can never thank her enough for how I felt that day.
- Nina is another blog/Twitter friend of mine who is so often there with an encouraging text or tweet that I can't pick out just one instance.
- John-Michael is a good friend of mine from college. Late (and, remember, I studied engineering, so my definition of late is laaaaaaate) one night I was sitting at home by myself, very upset about something. As soon as I mentioned that I was crying, he dropped everything to come sit with me on my very uncomfortable futon and cheered me up with his goofy jokes and random singing.
- Eamonn went to my high school. We weren't really friends; we didn't belong to the same social circles, you might say (me = nerd, him = not). A few months before we graduated, a good friend of mine took his own life in his home a half-dozen houses from mine. God, I was heartbroken. My best friend had a soccer game that day and I accompanied her. I still remember how at least half the girls on the field were crying, the gray drizzle falling on us all amplifying the mood. On the sidelines, I tried to hold back the tears but I couldn't find the strength. Eamonn went to all the girls' soccer games. He saw me crying and just kinda put his arms out in the universal gesture for "you look like you need a hug." He hugged me while I cried a sobbing, angry kind of cry. It was such a small gesture - and we still weren't really friends after that - but, ten years later, it still sticks out in my mind when I think about that day.
- When I was laid off and struggling to find work, two of my sorority sisters offered to lend me money. I didn't need it, but it meant a lot just the same. I'm not going to name them here, out of respect, but they know who they are.
- I had been at UF for three weeks when I turned 18. I hardly knew anyone but my roommate Lola threw a party for me, inviting all her friends because I didn't really have any yet. That weekend my neighbors (Akshay, Brandon and Blake) took me out to dinner, a movie (Zoolander) and my first ever Coldstone experience! I expected it to be terrible, but they made it awesome.
- Lori & Maurice - who I knew from a writing group - adopted me (and Jasper!) for Thanksgiving in 2008 when I was stuck working in New York. It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family, but it was lovely.
- I met Chris Novak once in college. It was my freshman year and I think he was a senior. When I found out I'd be moving to St. Louis five years later, I found out he lead the Gator Club there. I contacted him through facebook and (thought he didn't really remember me) he welcomed me into his circle of friends and even helped me move a few months later.
- Reiko, Kathy & Suzanne helped me so much even though I don't think they were quite prepared to receive that email that said, "Hey, I have a dozen girls and we want to start a chapter of your Sorority 700 miles from the closest chapter."
- I know I've said it before, but all the wonderful women at RWA 2010 were so nice to me and welcomed me with open arms that I was kind of overwhelmed by it. Especially Leigh, Constance, Shay, and Janice, who put up with my fan-girl-ing :-)
- Kelley Vitollo gave me the opportunity to become involved with YAtopia, which so far has been a great experience with great people. With every post and tweet I realize how lucky I am to share this blog with DJ, Sharon, Leigh, Kelley, Chanelle and Wendy. I keep thinking they'll realize their mistake and kick me out, but it hasn't happened yet! ;-)
- My Egyptian friend James who gave me the last of his awesome (maybe magical?) flu herbs even though you can't buy them in the US.
- My freshman year I asked my neighbor/friend to help me move a Foosball table from my car to my apartment. His roommate (who I didn't really know) also volunteered to help and ended up staying to assemble the thing (twice - but that's another story) for me. Nate and I ended up dating for a long time after that day.
- Kelly, Emily, Kris, Mike, David, Kayla, Ashish, and Paddy took me in and really made St. Louis feel like 'home' in such a short time. Some of them even helped me move within days of meeting me!
And I really could keep going for a looooooong time, but I think you'd get bored with me eventually - if you're still hanging around now, that is. I really am thankful for everyone who has helped me in my life - even if you're not listed above. If you would stick with me for a few more minutes, I'd like to mention two more things:
- The Bloggess is one of my favorite internet people. Her blog is usually hilarious, but a few weeks ago she shared this blog post that I'd like to share with you. If you're struggling, please don't be too proud or embarrassed to ask for help.
- I've been reading a lot about Zainab Salib since watching her TED video last month and ... well, talk about paying it forward in a big way! She's amazing and I'd love for all of you to read more about Women for Women International and Join Me on the Bridge on March 8th for International Women's Day.
So what about you? Do you have someone who has given back to you? Made your life a little better, a little easier? Leave your stories or - even better - blog links in the comments!