Sammy Nickalls
August 04, 2015 2:11 pm

My best friend and I officially met during our freshman year of college in an English class. During one of the very first days we sat in our tiny desks in that chilly classroom, we started doodling ridiculous (but, I maintain to this day, quite clever) drawings on each others’ notes.

I had no idea back then that those doodles would be the start of something absolutely irreplaceable.

Since that class in 2010, Kayla has supported me through every single obstacle that came my way: the death of one of my close friends, countless anxiety attacks, several quarter-life crises, a big breakup, a million smaller problems that felt like the end of the world at the time. We ended up being roommates for three years, and I didn’t cry once when we graduated college in 2014. . . that is, until every last thing had been packed up in our apartment, and I looked at Kayla, realizing that the moment I took that next step out the door, I wouldn’t be roommates with my best friend again.

When I graduated, I knew that the majority of my friends from college would slowly drift away, becoming nothing more than happy memories, faded photographs. After all, life in your 20s post-graduation is a tumultuous thing; jobs take you miles away from the place you thought you’d always call home, relationships get more serious, and you’re not longer living just a few rooms down from the people you thought you’d always hold dear. That said, even though we knew from the get-go that our lives would be taking us far away from each other — her to Massachusetts, me to Pennsylvania — we both had absolutely no doubt that our relationship would remain strong as ever.

For some people in life, you just know.

And we were right. We took turns making the six-and-a-half-hour trek from our respective homes to stay as long as our jobs would allow, trying our hardest not to let more than two months pass between visits. And when we weren’t visiting, we’d be sending Facebook messages to each other (generally poop jokes, animal vids, and dramatic declarations of love, TBH). In March, when I came up to Massachusetts to visit, we decided we were going to get matching tattoos. And when we did, it only seemed right to make it circle around our favorite show: BBC’s Sherlock.

Kayla introduced me to Sherlock back in January of 2014, and the rest is history: we binge-watched the show together when we were exhausted from working on senior thesis; we jokingly (but, like, not TOTALLY jokingly) dreamed about meeting / making out with / marrying Benedict Cumberbatch; we’d try to force our boyfriends to watch it, and when they refused to enjoy it to our liking, we’d just give up and watch it with each other.

Soon, Sherlock became our mutual obsession. We send each other countless Sherlock articles on Facebook, rewatched every single ninety-minute episode on Netflix, and giggled constantly over Mrs. Hudson quotes. And when one of us was going through a really hard time, we’d leave each other notes: “You are my pressure point.”

For those who aren’t avid watchers of the show, “pressure points” are the aspects of the characters’ lives that they hold most dear and are most important to them over all else; they are used by one of the villains, Magnussen, to figure out what makes his targets truly vulnerable and able to crack. Of course, some of these “pressure point” elements aren’t exactly benevolent; “opium” is one of Sherlock Holmes’ pressure points, for example — but so is “John Watson.” It’s one of the most heart-breakingly beautiful elements of the show, because it’s so true to life: we are human, and we have vulnerabilities that can break us, but also vulnerabilities that can fortify us. Genuinely good people that we let into our lives will always make us stronger.

The night before (we’ve never been good at planning) we were to get our tattoos, we decided to get a very simple element of the show to commemorate our friendship that has bloomed bigger and brighter since that first day in English class. We decided on four simple squares on our right forearms, representing the iconic “I AM SHERLOCKED” that is donned on BBC merch throughout the world. When we got them, they came out imperfect — the tattoo artist warned us that can happen with geometrical tattoos — but that became one of the things we loved most about them.

When I look at my arm now, I think of many things. I think of that episode, of course, when Sherlock can’t figure out the code to Irene Adler’s phone. I think about my senior year of college, all those nights watching Netflix with a glass of wine.

But what I’m reminded of most of all: the person who’s been there for me all throughout college, through a big breakup, through the death of a loved one. The person who has been my biggest cheerleader, who I look forward to seeing every two months.

I’m reminded of my pressure point. Love you always, Kayla.

(Image via Sammy Nickalls)

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