Happy birthday, bes' fraaaaaaan.

This is my BFF Kaitlin. 

Fabulous, isn't she? 

Kaitlin turns 26 today (as does her equally awesome twin Sean, happy birthday Sean!). We've got five solid years of friendship under our belts at this point, most of which has been long-distance. I'm so spoiled having a friend like her and so proud of us that we've stayed as close as we have despite the time zone and plane-trip-with-almost-mandatory-layover between us. 

In honor of her birthday, I would like to take a sappy, dorky, 26-step march down memory lane to commemorate a few friendship highlights: 

1. Our very first friend picture in London, where I initially thought she was just "the other ND intern at BBDO who I have to share a cube with, who's cold all the time and wears her raincoat in the office to stay warm." Little did I know we were about to totally bond over pub quiz night, seeing "Les Mis" with a male friend who was unafraid to cry over it, mocking the dance floor makeouts at O'Neills on Thursday nights, how much we loved eating little baby lambies, and our mutual crush on a Prince Harry lookalike at the office.  

2. Our senior-year roommatehood cemented our friendship in stone. I'm convinced to this day only Kait could have withstood my weirdo bandie ramblings and tendency to talk in my sleep, and that she made me a straight-up better person by virtue of sharing a tiny dorm room for a year. 

3. Halloween 2010. I was the angel to her devil, and we did redheaded slut shots, and we fed drinks to a Furby. Enough said. 

4. Christmas, in which we bonded with "Santa" and explored South Bend by car, admiring Christmas lights and freaking out her mom by debating whether or not I actually had mono (I did). 

5. Notre Dame's first snowday in nearly a decade turned into an epic nature experience in which it was proven that this girl actually can communicate with animals (as she tamed a squirrel on a "nature walk" to appreciate the beauty of campus in the snow). 

6. Best date to senior band prom ever. I seem to remember some silliness involving the Prom Queen's roses...and some Youtubing of "cats playing Patty Cake" as soon as we got home :)

7. Endless senior spring shenanigans, including Friday roommate dates for Cambodia Thai and matinee movies, fantastic parties and way too much time at the Backer. 

8.  A weekend trip to Minneapolis over the Frozen Four our senior year. Crashing a bachelorette party, shopping allllll weekend, and generally being lunatics.  

9. Kentucky Derby. Oh man. Enough said. #animalplanetforeverrrr

10. Graduation. It's funny...they say you make your best friends in college, and I did make a lot of amazing ones...but on the day that I officially said goodbye to Notre Dame, Kaitlin was the ONLY person I couldn't imagine not having by my side. Getting as close as we did in just a year truly is a testament to the fact that when you meet the one, you just know...with friends just like with guys. 

11. Our first football game back as alums together, in which she insulted a member of another set of twins, we dressed up for Halloween (it's really hard to wear wings to a crowded college bar), and we were generally adorable. 

12. A weekend trip to Minneapolis in 2012: Sculpture Garden, Blue Door juicy lucys, a wild night out at the 508, and an insanely lovey dinner at Chino. 

13. On my 23rd birthday, I found myself deep in the throes of a miserable first busy season at my public accounting job. Kaitlin made the most insane scrapbook of our friendship thus far, complete with quotes from texts and our epic Senior Year Quote List and a ton of photos and mementos. I don't even want to think about how much time she put into it...but I still pull it out after a bad day or when I'm feeling lonely. It's one of my favorite gifts I've ever received.

14.  On our trip to London: stopping back in at O'Neills for old time's sake. The cover band still played "Sex on Fire," the Irish car bombs were lovely, and we got to witness an arrest (Gucci watch not included). 

15. Ping POOOOONG!

16. The Ice Bar in London. To which Kait wore flip flops.

17. Conor from Ennis. Actually, just Ireland in general. The night we bonded with the other Americans at McGann's in Doolin, Kait winning over an Irishman and taking away his "I <3 Spuds" phone case, and her general perfection at life in the land of her people, the Irish. 

18. Kaitlin is not only totally gorgeous and formidably intelligent, she's also fearless. Here's a great anecdote from our Ireland trip: the day we went to the Cliffs of Moher, it was torrentially downpouring and super windy. I'm a klutz and afraid of heights, and as such wasn't thrilled by the idea of walking along the muddy, slippery edge of a cliff that plummeted hundreds of feet into the ocean. We did it anyway, until I threw a hissy fit and stopped halfway there. Kait, on the other hand, forged ahead (in slippery rain boots, mind you!), and climbed to the peak of the cliffs, communing with the sheep and cows on the way. Fearless, I tell you. I worship her bravery.  

19. She's my official favorite football companion. Even when it pours down rain and we rock matching green pants that end up wet up to the knees because, despite our best efforts, we totally failed at rain protection.

20. Nobody can rock an ugly Christmas sweater like Kait. Let alone rock an ugly Christmas sweater after eight bottomless mimosas, a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, and a few Fireball-Rumchata shots. (Taken at her 24th birthday party, for which I journeyed to Baltimore!)

21. Another Baltimore weekend trip in September of 2013 included history nerding at Antietam, a Civil War battlefield...the best dinner I've ever had at Woodberry Kitchen...a road trip through the 'hood, and a rainy, wonderful time at FreeFest. 

22. As I covered here, we took an epic road trip to Notre Dame in November of 2013 to watch the Navy game. We stayed with Laura, we ate Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches, we watched the band (I cried), and we Backered like champions today. 

23. Kaitlin hates cold weather. It's one of those universally accepted facts. She pulled off one of the most ridiculous surprises ever when she ventured to Minneapolis in the middle of the Polar Vortex winter of 2014 to surprise me for my 25th birthday. Getting this girl to the tundra in the middle of a deep freeze? Yep, guess she must really love me :)

24. The kind of friend who sends you feel-better presents is the kind of friend you keep forever. Especially when said feel-better present is themed and utterly perfect. Could a girl be more thoughtful or caring?

25. FIREFLY 2014. Aka one of the craziest weekends of my life. Kaitlin's encyclopedic music knowledge and incredible sense of fun made the weekend memorable not only from a musical standpoint, but for our friendship. 

26. A huge, massive thank you to this crazy, intelligent, beautiful, witty, sarcastic, incredibly patient girl for the last five years. You've made me laugh, you've made me cry (happy tears). You've put up with me through crushes, hookups, relationships, and breakups, you've been my best shopping partner and my endless source of Internet wonderfulness. You've introduced me to new music, the glory of cats, and the magic that is crab dip. We may not share a dorm room anymore but I'm so glad we're still sharing as much as we possibly can. Here's to you, Kaitlin, and to the next five years of our friendship, and the next five, and the next five, and the next five after that. You're stuck with me, best friend. Happiest of happy birthdays! I love you!