I met her at the beginning of freshman year of college. She lived a couple doors down from me in Page B. With big blue eyes and shimmering platinum blonde hair, she already stood out, but the main reason Casey was noticeable was because she was always smiling. And laughing. She was just so happy. We became casual friends, stopping by each others' rooms every once in awhile. Through Casey's eyes, the world was a beautiful fun place, and everyone had something inside them to love. She was so positive and would literally cheer her friends on in such a way that we would ask if she'd been a cheerleader in high school. "Never!" she scoffed. She played soccer, and wouldn't have wanted people to think otherwise. Freshman year continued, and as it drew to a close it was time for sorting out housing for the next year. By chance we ended up getting into the same suite in Van Kampen Hall. That lent us the chance to grow even closer during sophomore year. She introduced me, all of us, to John Mayer. She promised I would fall completely in love with him if I sat still and listened to the lyrics of the sweetly melodic song she had been playing over and over again all week that November of 2001.
And she was right.
Our junior year I spent as an R.A., and she spent in Italy. She studied business and Italian, walked everywhere over the cobbled streets of Milano, took trips to Switzerland and France, and generally had the time of her life. But she kept in touch with consistency and care, sending me letters asking about everything going on with me. Such diligence in the middle of her adventures was remarkable to me, and I knew that it was due to her that our friendship stayed strong despite the distance.
After college graduation we got the chance to finally be actual roommates, and we had a wonderful time for a few months in that old dilapidated house that sat between estates and overlooked the mountains in Montecito. We spent our days not cooking, taking beach walks, and talking the night away about our loves, lost and found. It wasn't unlike what we do now when we get together for weekends, either here where I am still in Santa Barbara, or where she moved back to in Orange County. Eat, walk, laugh, discuss love lost and found...
The thing about Casey is that guys love her. I mean it. They fall in love with her easily, and it is difficult for them to fall out. They are drawn to her carefree bubbly gorgeousness... and then their hearts get inextricably bound by her deep and observant perspectives and beliefs on life, faith, friendship, and love... her devotion to friends, her knowledge of business and philosophy, her commitment to truly living life to the fullest. I've watched it happen again and again. Casey sometimes loves them back, but she has extremely high standards for how a relationship should be and how she should feel and what would be good for her. She has never apologized for that, and always knew she'd find what she was looking for.
A few months ago she started dating a boy she knew from when they went to high school youth group years ago... Chase was the good-hearted guy that would take girls to prom that had really wanted to go but didn't have a date. He was the quiet and dutiful soul she never really got to know. So in early June they reconnected and he invited her over to his house for dinner, and once she got there she realized it was a full-on date... made evident by the elaborate lobster and steak dinner he had been working on for hours. She was impressed by his thoughtfulness and genuine display of affection for her. Summer crept by, and Casey and Chase became inseparable... and of course Chase fell in love.
But so did Casey.
They passed through Santa Barbara a few days ago en route to Cambria and then San Francisco for a birthday trip they'd planned together for Casey's birthday. I joined them for lunch, we caught up... Casey was glowing with excitement for their coastal road trip. Chase was content and smiling, happy to just be sitting by her side, as always. We said farewell, and they wound their way up the 101 along the ocean.
Hours later I saw a missed call from Casey. I called her back.
In Morro Bay, Chase had suddenly pulled off the freeway as the sun was setting. "Let's get out and check out the sunset! This looks like a path down to the beach!" They got out and followed the path, neither of them sure where it would lead, but only one of them knowing why they had so spontaneously taken it. It wound through tall grass and over some hills before delivering them to a stunning lookout point with views of the fading colors of the sunset and the hills of the central coast that roll so gently towards the beach. They sat to take it all in for a few moments before Chase popped up, fidgeted for a moment, then turned to Casey. He said some beautiful things to her... and then he had something sparkly appear in his hand...and then he asked her.
And she said yes.
My best friend is getting married.