On August 12th, 2011, I was given a gift that could never be replaced.
My family was looking for a change. Something to bring a little bit more light to our lives, and we got that with you, Miss Joana Villar (or Rock [or loser] as we like to call you). You were coming to the tiny town of Rio, Wisconsin from Pinhal Novo, Portugal as an exchange student for a year. I would be a junior in high school, and you would be entering your senior year. The moment we were able to read your profile through AFS, we knew we had to meet you. When everything was settled, and we knew you were coming to stay with us, we talked through Facebook over the course of those weeks before you came. I couldn't wait to have you as a part of my life, and a part of the family.
Little did I know, that having you here would mean I would have the absolute best year I could have ever imagined to date, and at the end of it all (it was actually more towards the beginning when I knew) I would have gained a sister - who taught me about life, how beautiful it is, what truly matters, and really the meaning of it all.
When I think of the word "friendship," I think back at all of the memories we've made throughout the years. I think of you calling clouds, "shadows," and your big toes, "thumbs," within your first few weeks here ( I know, when I went to visit you, I was a fool in every way in trying to speak any form of Portuguese ). I picture us dressed up for homecoming week and Halloween and you and I are making whatever weird face that comes to mind followed by whatever jokingly violent act we could force towards one another. I also think back to the time where you wiped glitter on my arm, then soon after, painted lipstick on my face on the car ride home from school one day - probably falling asleep a few minutes later over the span of a ten minute drive, because you're weird and that's what you do.
It's also difficult to forget the many times like Florida where we wrestled, and I'm pretty sure one of us farted on each other's face, you absolutely hating my "baby cry," your hilarious "obsession" with Justin Bieber, you breaking your pinky after Dominic tripped us during a running piggy back ride, or honestly, every day we were together. I feel like there were never any dull ones.
One thing though, was during senior night for volleyball, when I was able to talk about you (which I know you hate and I'm sure loving this blog so far), I remember hugging you and crying because even though the school year had just really begun, you were already that much closer to leaving. With that, I know many of our teammates were feeling the same.
You were the life of the party, and the light through any dark situation. No matter what kind of drama was going on around us, no matter how boring any situation may have been, if anyone had been really having a tough time, or if someone needed to be told something to keep them on the right track, you were always there to pull things through.
You're one of a kind, Rock. You really know what it's all about, and you've taught so many people that, especially myself. You don't let any sort of drama get in your way. You recognize what's going on, deal with it in your own way, but lord knows you would never do anything to hurt anyone or waste your energy or time on trivial matters. You've taught me and so many that there's nothing better to be than yourself, and that straying from who you are for anyone or anything is not worth the time or effort. You put your heart and soul in to the things you love, and know that taking your time is a part of the process. You're the definition of loyalty and epitome ingenuity. You know how to laugh and not take everything too seriously. You've understood that relationships and spending time with the ones you love truly is truly what this life is all about, along with just going with the flow and the meaning of it all is to be happy. You've continued to teach me the importance of all of these things throughout the years.
You're also the most incredibly talented, hard-working, determined, adventurous soul who is absolutely, stunningly, beautiful on the inside and out. You seriously kick butt at everything you do, and if you want to get better, you work harder than everyone else around you to get there. Not to mention, you excel in too many things to count. Also, you are open minded to every new situation and are willing to try and listen to anything new. You're a wandering soul, always willing to learn and experience new things. You're unbelievably humble and kind, and give love to everyone you cross paths with in your own way. That's why you have made such an impact on everyone you have met. That's why you mean so much to everyone in Rio - Why you so much to anyone who is blessed to know you. Especially me.
You give everyone you meet perspective and a warmth they never see or experience. You don't put up barriers for the sake of making people comfortable. You listen and converse genuinely. Most of all, you make them smile every moment you're around. Not everyone can do that, no one can do it like you, and no one will ever be able to.
With that, I don't know if you'll ever truly understand how much you are loved here and everywhere. You are family in every way, and man it sucks not being able to see you more often.
August 12th, 2011 was the beginning of our house becoming a home because you were in it. We gained an incredible force to our family who could never be replaced, and I a sister who I couldn't possibly love more or be more grateful for. You've taught me too many things in life to count. You've been there for me when times have been terrible, and helped me see clearly, you've also put me in my place when I was being a cruddy person, and showed me the way to getting better by just being you. You've shown me what true friendship is and with the times we've had, I know there are thousands more to be had.
Your nickname is Rock not only because of your Arnold-like strength and beast-like qualities, it's also because you are my rock in life, and nothing could really begin to explain what you mean to me, except for the fact that I'm one lucky and blessed girl to have you in my life. To the best sister and friend in the world, I love you times infinity and beyond.
I'll see you soon. <3
Ninja (AKA - the coolest person on the planet) (P.S. - Noodles or Culvers first, Loser?) ;)