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Open Letter to the Friends I Made In Boone

When I got the idea for this, I was like right on! But when it actually got down to doing it, my mind was blank. And now, I can feel the beginnings of something emotional. That’s the point though, I suppose.

For those of you who know me  — and I mean know me for real, you know that my time at Appalachian State has not exactly been sunshine and rainbows. In fact, it hasn’t even been a calm, sunny day with a slight breeze. At least in terms of social life that is.

Freshman year was when we were in the thick of COVID. I knew things were going to look different and that would add another obstacle to my experience. The weekend of moving in, I quickly became friends with three other girls. We spent pretty much everyday together for about a week and a half when all of a sudden they ghosted me. In true ghosting fashion, I never knew why they did. I felt awful, lonely, and confused (one of them would occasionally post group photos that I was in after the fact). That was the first semester, and then of course because of COVID, I went home during the second semester and all of my classes were online.

As my Sophomore year began, I didn’t know what to expect. No one could’ve prepared me or predicted the absolute dumpster fire that I endured for the entirety of the year. Not even just one failed semester like last time, but a whole entire year. Coupled with extracurriculars, assignments, and trying to find time for self-care, I was exhausted and drained. Both instances still affect me to some extent today. The only consolation prize that I have is that I know that I wouldn’t treat anyone like they did (and that they’re still obsessed with me after all this time). 

It’s Junior year now, which leads me to these beautiful, wondrous people that I’ve had the absolute pleasure of getting to know. Let’s start with Olivia Hoagland and Yasmene Ahmadivarji.

I met Olivia in the Spring Semester of 2022. My shift was over for the Women’s Center, so I moved to sit somewhere else. In walked Olivia to do her own shift. The center was quiet and I asked her if she needed help with anything. The next time we talked more when I asked her about her necklace which was given to her by her partner. Olivia was my first real friend here and luckily for me, she still is. Olivia and I are like the relationship dynamic of ‘I talk and she listens’ except in our case it’s ‘I talk, she makes shocked faces’. 

Yasmene was in one of my English classes in the Spring of 2022. I don’t think we talked until the middle of the semester, and that was only because we were partners for a brief start-of-class warmup. One day after class we went to lunch together. Not gonna lie — I kind of intruded myself into her plan of a solo lunch, but she allowed me to and then we not only became study buddies, but friends. That is something that has continued into this semester and I know I can call her for a laugh or to help her decide the right outfit for class. I took my first big girl trip to Boone by myself over the summer to come see her for her birthday. Yasmene is sunshine.

Just like Olivia, I met Rylee Souders in the Women’s Center. She was quiet (which is a running theme with the people I’ve made friends with here) but warmed up. Rylee is the kind of friend who may not always be around due to her schedule, but will make sure to check in on you. Even when I send her random broken texts of updates, she’ll read them purposefully and with intention and give the most fitting and appropriate reaction. I think it’s funny because when I started to get to know her, she reminded me of one of my friends back home and it gave me a sense of familiarity. Rylee is comfort.

I briefly met Eli White in the Spring of 2022 but really got to know them more this semester. I met her through Olivia. Back in the spring, Eli was on the couch in the Center speaking candidly and without filter. It was their moment of being an open book. She said something that I related to and we started a dialogue. I thought (and still think) she is funny. Like Rylee, Eli reminds me of someone back home. Both Eli and my hometown friend make me laugh harder than anyone else. It causes my cheeks to hurt, but that’s how I know it’s been a good laugh. Even when Eli gets busy, they’ll set aside what they’re doing to help those they care about. They are very patient, compassionate, and resilient. Eli is laughter.

Yvette Garduño Piña is someone I did not expect to meet. She is another person I met through Olivia. The three of them have been friends since basically forever. Out of all of the friends I’ve made here, Yvette is the quietest one. It did take a hot second for us to establish a relationship, but I’d say that we’re at a good point now. Yvette is a good person to have a conversation with; she is very knowledgeable and insightful. She shows her love and care in things like baking, and makes sure that her friends are doing well. Her giggles are mischievous, but you know she always means well. Yvette is someone to know.

I am so beyond thankful and grateful for all of them. I hope they know that I love and cherish them so deeply. It is making me emotional to write this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am endlessly proud of them and I know that they are destined for great things. I cannot wait to see our friendship grow and to see what life has in store for them. 

Sophia Alayna

App State '24

Sophia is a Junior at Appalachian State University. She is majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing as well as a minor in Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. She enjoys watching various genres of television and loves spending time with her friends.