I met Shelby about 4 years ago, we had creative writing classes together and worked together on the student newspaper.
I always thought she was really cool.
Not cool in the way that is trying to be cool, like a lot of pretentious writers in our class, but cool because she wasn’t trying at all.
I was never particularly any good at making or keeping a lot of friends. And even if I had tried, we’d do fun things together and talk about our lives, but sooner or later we’d drift apart. I never really clicked with a friend like I have with Shelby.
The first outside of work encounter I had with Shelby was when she invited me to a family wedding party at her apartment.
The conversation went a little something like this:
“What’s a family wedding party?”
“You know, everyone dresses up like they’re going to a wedding and we listen to songs they play at receptions”
“Is that a thing that people do?”
“It is now!”
And so I went, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a college party.
But the story I want to tell comes later. About six or seven months later, when Shelby invited me out to The Old Stone House, where she was working at the time, for a Spooky Stories event.
It was a small museum located just outside of campus where Shelby worked on weekends as a docent.
I wasn’t doing anything, and The Old Stone House was important to Shelby, so I agreed. Shelby told me she’d pick me up around noon. What she didn’t tell me was that she’d also be working during the event.
So we showed up and I helped her set up and clean up for the event. Kids would be coming in the afternoon, and there was a costume contest later in the evening.
When we walked up to the old building, several other students who were Shelby’s coworkers were gathered around what looked like a medieval torture device, surrounded by yellow jackets and baskets of apples.
“Can you make apple cider?”
“Not with that.”
“Sure you can!”
And so Shelby showed me how to make apple cider.
Essentially you use a device that looks like it grants death sooner than it grants apple cider. You throw the apples in and use a crank to move the apples through two spiked poles and crush the apples into a pulp. Then the liquid collects in a barrel underneath and most of the apple carnage is separated through a filter on the bottom. This would be easy enough, but the apple cider attracts hordes of yellow jackets, and they cover the entire device, and drown themselves in the cups of cider set out for the kids.
Then tons of kids arrived, dressed in costume, to hear the scary stories and look at the exhibits in all of the rooms, which included a bat exhibit and a whole display of creepy looking bugs that apparently inhabited the nearby wilderness.
After looking at the bug exhibit, one woman exclaimed “It would take one long while to fry all them up!” to which Shelby and I had to dodge into the other side of the museum before we started laughing.
Eventually an older woman who worked there asked both of us to judge the costume contest.
So we had a gaggle of 6-10 year olds vying for our vote. Shelby and I conferred in private, eventually defaulting to a witch and a princess, with a pity third place prize to a kid who had dressed as a dinosaur, but had lost his mask while running around the museum.
Eventually the night came to a close at six or seven, and I’d actually had a lot of fun. I remember thinking “I probably would’ve hated this if I’d been stuck here with anyone else.
We took a quick picture on Snapchat to commemorate the night, so quick and haphazard, blurry and dark, and still my absolute favorite picture of us because it tells the story of how I realized that I would have fun with Shelby anywhere we were together. And the story of how my best friend got seven hours of free labor out of me in exchange for cookies and yellow jacket flavored apple cider.
Lylas so much, Shelbae ♥️ happy 25th Birthday!
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