friendship

Why the Internet Can Be Good (RE: Alex Rayfiel)

The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a link a friend posted that caught my eye. It had a picture of a boy named Alex, who I’d gone to high school with, attached to an article whose title didn’t quite register until after I clicked it.

When the page loaded, my face went white. Alex was sick. Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His family had created a donation page in the hope of raising money for a radical new treatment in Israel. I read through the story his wife posted, aching for the two of them and their newly born daughter. It all sounded so completely unfair.

Now, I’d never known this guy. We’d gone to high school together for four years, and I’d seen him around from time to time, but never got to know him. In fact, I only met him once in a brief introduction from a mutual friend at our shared college. But as I read the story about the turn his life has suddenly taken, I realized I remembered him, and how, even in our lack of interaction, he’d left a mark on me.

High school is tough for everyone, often in different ways, and while I wouldn’t say I had a terrible experience, I also wouldn’t volunteer to do it all over again. I was a quiet, reserved student who stuck to what she knew and rarely felt comfortable in her own skin. That being said, Alex made me laugh.

He and his friends had participated in the talent show as the “Finger Flippers” which became legendary amongst our senior class. And during our senior luncheon, they created a video that discussed which of our classmates had celebrity lookalikes. I remember sitting at the back table, nervous as always, counting down the days until I graduated. I hadn’t been sat next to any of my friends, and I was internally apologizing to the people around me for not being more interesting. But then the lights went down and the video started, and I laughed through the whole thing. It was a genuine laugh, the kind that makes you feel lighter, and as I looked around the room at my classmates who felt the same, I felt included. Afterwards, when Alex and his friends mentioned they had plans to post the video to YouTube I took note, excited to have something positive to look back on in the future. I’d forgotten about the video over all these years, and only found it when I searched his name. When I watched it again however, it still gave me that good feeling.

So as I read through his story and then through some of the comments, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to donate, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it felt like a way I could say thank you for giving me those moments of freedom all those years ago. And even more, allow me the opportunity to be a part of offering him the chance to experience a moment of freedom in the future. Be it through minor progress, or radical recovery.

This is the good part about the Internet. For amongst all the drama and fake personas, there also lie small bursts of goodness. There are chances to read stories of hope and resilience, chances to reconnect with old friends and family, and sometimes, chances to lend a hand to a near stranger. And so, Alex Rayfiel, while we may remain essentially strangers, I hope you know I’m praying for you, and that I’m grateful for what you gave me all those years ago, even if you had no idea. I wish you and your family all the best, and I hope the next time I find you in my Facebook feed, it will be to inform me that you’re on the road to recovery.

If you want to help Alex, you can find his donation page here.

Cool Things My Friends Did This Year (List-cember #4)

Aside from singing and snacking and decorating, the holidays also bring about a lot of family time, which in turn brings forward a lot of questions. Most commonly: So have you been? Or its fraternal twin: What have you been up to? And while I can’t provide a blanket, bulletproof answer for you, I do have a few ideas for a specific handful of individuals.

See, my peeps have had a pretty good year. They’ve done some great things. They’ve shattered some of their personal glass ceilings, and I’d like them remind them how incredible they are, both for their benefit and for that of their inquiring family members this holiday season.

Spoiler Alert: this is basically just a mush fest of me bragging about my friends. Sorry, not sorry.

1) Alleeson (it’s actually “Allison” but I spell it Alleeson for important Kimberlee double-e solidarity type reasons)

I don’t know if you know this, but this year marked our 10th year of friendship! So first off, let me start by saying, happy anniversary! Secondly, let’s talk about the fact that you finished school, applied for your dream job, got it, and then moved, on your own, to a brand new state to pursue it. I mean…can we get a round of applause for this girl?! Your drive is truly inspiring and I’m so proud of you.

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2) Cory

Speaking of dream jobs, can we talk about this guy who, no matter how crazy hard the process of getting there was, walked across not one, but two stages this year and is now kicking ass in his new career?! I salute you and love you and miss stealing donuts from the lumberyard with you at work.

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3) Amanda

You know how after the Super Bowl they ask the MVP what he’s going to do next and he says, “I’m going to Disneyland!” Well you see, Amanda interned at Disney World, no doubt making it all the more delightful, no, more magical for any MVP who may have decided to stop by. Dear Disney, please take this as my official letter of recommendation, as it would be in your best interest to keep her mind for your future endeavors. Sincerely, Kim

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4) Spenser & Ashlynn

Oh hey NEWLYWEDS. (Which by the way, according to Google, I can call you that for two full years, and I plan to.) I was so honored to be a part of your big day this year and am even more excited to be a part of your big…lives? Yeah, that didn’t sound weird. How about we just stick to congratulations and a hashtag that goes something like: #keepkickingassin2017 because you guys already know you ruled 2016, what with starting your careers and helping me beat the original Mario Party.

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5) Lyndi & Chris

These two recently participated in the Santa Clarita Marathon Series, each of them taking home a medal: Lyndi for the 5k and Chris for the marathon and I can’t begin to express my high fives! It’s such a huge accomplishment to finish any race and I know that both of your trained hard to kick your respective race’s butt in a big way! I hope you are both as proud of yourselves as I am of you. (Insert 100 muscle emojis here)

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6) Maddox

Call this one cheesy if you want, but there’s no doubting this little guy is my BFF and I refuse not celebrate the fact that he started kindergarten this year. Here’s toast of Coke and Fruit Snacks to you buddy.

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7) Taryn

Speaking of school milestones, this (not so little) nugget started college this year and I couldn’t be more excited for you! Commence my constant stalking of you on social media and occasionally sending you memes and quotes from High School Musical songs so you don’t forget about me.

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8) Kristine

Coming full circle on the school milestones, my little Teeny graduated from college this fall! She also moved out of my place and into her own place this year, which makes my face sad, though upon seeing her thrive I can’t help but make my face glad again. Speaking (a little too much) about faces, please never stop sending me Snapchats of yours.

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9) Natalee

In case you missed it, my sister Natalee and I went to Ireland this year. And while yes, that sound like I’m just bragging (and in a way I guess I am) I also want to bring up the significance of this trip. Have you ever had a dream vacation you wanted to take? I’m talking something you’ve thought about for years and years and years, but you always let life get in the way and never take it? Well Natalee gave procrastination the finger this year and made her dreams come true and it was an honor to be included.

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10) Thomas

When I wrote this letter back in April, I had no idea what the road of recovery held for you. But as I’ve watched you continue to persevere through every obstacle that’s been thrown at you, I’ve been overwhelmed with inspiration. You are truly a warrior and the world is yours to conquer.

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11) Emily, Jake, Julia, & (another awesome) Allison

It wouldn’t be write (great pun, you’ll see why in a second) not to include this bunch because they are my brethren. My blogging brethren that is, not to mention they’re just good people. I know how hard it is to put out meaningful content and these guys find way to do it without trying to harness metaphors out of Baked Cheetos. It’s incredible. Go check them out!

Emily (for all things sports & exercise): http://www.emilyparkerson.com/

Jake (for all things financial): http://jacobdahlstrum.com/

Allison (for all things dating, ranting & Sue): http://allisonarnone.com/

Julia (for all things hilarious & unfiltered): https://imwritingsolo.me/

Congrats on a successful year guys, even through all the muck, you still made 2016 look good. Here’s to an even better 2017.

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.