Today, on International Day of Friendship, I’m thinking a lot about the enormous value of good friendships — ones that buoy you through all your challenges. My forever friendship is with my best friend, Amaia. We met when we were five, and her family moved in across the street. Over fifteen years later, we have both moved away from home, but our friendship continues to only grow stronger.

As children, we were inseparable. Our entire households were interconnected, and we still joke about building a tunnel or bridge to connect the two homes. Then, at the end of sixth grade, my family moved to Paris, France. I was excited to go, but sad to be leaving my friend. While living abroad, I would wake up extra early before school so that I could call Amaia back in California. Whenever we went home to the U.S., Amaia and I would stay up late filling each other in on our lives, laughing and joking just the same as we did before I moved.

When my family moved back from France, we returned to our house, neighbors with Amaia’s family once again. We went to the same high school, and she held my hand as I was wracked with anxiety over starting at a new school. We would go to school together every morning, and it was Amaia’s friendship that made the transition seamless for me, helping me conquer my fears.

To this day, we take care of each other, we know how to read one another, and when the other is in need of a friend, we are there for each other. When Amaia sprained her ankle and was on crutches, I sat with her at lunch everyday, just the two of us. When she slipped in the shower and chipped her tailbone, I was one of the first people there to help her. She’s always there for me, too. She’s supported me through dealing with my anxiety, always knowing the right things to say and knowing what situations would make me anxious, checking in with me and putting my feelings above everything else. The importance she placed on understanding and helping me with my anxiety validates it. I know she loves me for who I am.

After graduating from high school we went to seperate colleges, but we would always visit each other and plan our trips home to make sure we would get to see one another, because despite all our texts and FaceTimes, those interpersonal moments are vital. When Amaia was stressed, I was there for her, and when I was going through a breakup she was there for me. We cheered each other on from afar, and when we are together it’s like we never left.

Amaia is the person I go to with my most exciting news and my biggest secrets. She reminds me of how far I have come with my anxiety, and always tells me how proud she is, reminding me to be proud of myself. She is my everything. I know that no matter how far we move away from one another or how long we have to go without seeing each other that she will forever be my best friend, because nothing has been able to seperate us yet, and nothing ever will.