I suspect there are millions of people on this planet who can say the following sentence with absolute conviction.
I have a best friend.
So what makes it any different when I say it? Well, of course it’s because I have an exceptional best friend.
Yes, I am fully aware that we who claim to have a best friend believe we have an exceptional best friend. . .isn’t that kind of the point? I mean look at the adjective before the word friend. . .best.
But what happens when you put the word friend next to this word best?
The meaning may be changing a little, no? Tweaking just a bit here or there. . .because I imagine for each one of us that word best takes on a whole new meaning when we apply it to our own friend. And these friends could be any shape or size, male or female…some people might even tell you their pet is their best friend, but for me, that is not the case.A best friend, no matter who or what they are and where or when they enter your life, is nothing less than a gift from the gods. That one person in your life you are absolutely capable of living without, but would never choose to. That one person who knows your foibles and graces, all your deep dark secrets, what you look like when you’re heartbroken or so very manically happy. That one person who if had been born your sibling, you would despise each other into oblivion, but through the beauty of chance has become your true sister. The one person in all the world you’re not afraid of what they think of you because you can show this person your most horrid self and there is no judgment, only love and support, and more than likely a goodly bit of teasing.
This friend could be a sibling, aunt or uncle, parent or child even. . .or it could be a girl you met one day sitting at a lunch table in a high school cafeteria.
Which brings us finally to my best friend. I did meet her when I was a senior in high school where we did sit at the same lunch table with a crazy rag-tag eclectic group of people, some of whom I can’t even remember now. We didn’t start out as best friends then, we just knew each other and enjoyed making fun of each other and those around us.
It wasn’t until after first semester of college that we became best friends. The strange thing about it was it was instantaneous! I found her one night quite by accident, sitting on the sofa in the living room at my future husband’s. Without a word or any kind of plan we became best friends that very night and the rest is. . .well, I guess you could call it history. A long sordid history to be sure.
My best friend and true soul sister, has the most beautiful blue eyes, which she has in turn, given to her little daughter. Her wicked sharp sense of humor which can slay at the drop of a hat, is a double edged sword. For those who cannot grasp the artful quality of it, there is a serpent’s sting about it that undermines the brilliance. This ability to amuse and wound equally just might be my favorite thing about her, even when the barbs might be directed at me. If we cannot laugh at ourselves, how can we learn to laugh at all?
The other side of this strong worded and willed woman is a less than sure soul. My initial desire is to take her soul in my hands and hold it like a baby bird, to croon sweetly to it and keep it safe. Which is strange, because her actions create the illusion of one who is a protector, though as fiercely protective as she is I have found she has always been in need of being protected herself. That is one way we fit so perfectly together. . .we have been able to nurture the other and be nurtured in return without compromising either one’s dignity.
She is the only person I know who has the same strange ability to store and recall countless bits of useless trivia as me. Actually I know many people who can recall bits of trivia…but everyone seems to have their niche, their own special topic. We just store random facts. One of our favorites is the following and it goes a little something like this: Chinatown in Washington DC has the largest single span Chinese arch in the world. We know this because we spent a fair amount of time in Chinatown shopping for supplies to throw a “Chinese Take-Out” party.
No one cares about that arch. No one really listens to us when we relay that very cool fact…but it’s our fact and we like it.
We like to think of ourselves as outlaws. . .I’m Butch Cassidy and she’s the Sundance Kid. We’re not really outlaws. . .that’s our fantasy us. We’re just us. We’re just regular girls, however “outlawish” we want to pretend to be.
We like to say and do outrageous things for the sheer pleasure of it and sometimes simply for the shock value. Just to see how much we can rock the boat without actually falling out. And we have done seriously stupid things when it comes to boat rocking. . .sometimes I’m amazed to find there is still a boat for us to be in.
There are people who will tell you that she is a bad influence on me. I suspect there are people who say the same thing to her too.
I don’t really believe that. I don’t really like it either, what gives anyone the right to judge our friendship?
What about the times she is the only sane person I know? What about the time she drove panic stricken for two hours after not hearing from me for thirty-six hours to find me in my bed so miserable I couldn’t get up? That time I know she thought something really bad because when I woke to find her sitting on my bed with tears in her eyes, and as I lie there curled on my side looking silently up at her our tears spilled and mixed together so that when they landed on the soft cotton pillow we couldn’t have known which were hers and which were mine, but they all smelled exactly the same way, a combination of relief and joy.
What about the time the whole world closed in on her and I was the only person who loved her in exactly the way she needed? Without judgment, without irony, with just my heart opened to her when she needed to be loved more than any other time in her life.
So I believe the naysayers should simply. . .fade away.
We have always said we each have one half of the same brain. And for a long time it was like that, finishing each others sentences, thinking identical thoughts, knowing intrinsically what the other needed at any given time. But then I did the unthinkable! I packed up my whole life, my half of our precious brain and moved it all five hundred miles away. The disappointment and pain were palpable. She never said a word, she was supportive and tried to look at it as the same adventure I did. She was good, but the sense I had betrayed our friendship was overwhelming me even though I was so excited to begin the new life.
It was hard at first, the not being twenty minutes away from each other when we wanted a glass of wine after work, or to go shopping, or even just to sit on the couch together and watch a movie we’d both seen nine thousand times. But here’s the thing about being so far apart, it made us stronger and in so many ways, healthier. We could no longer take the other for granted. There is not as much time together in the same physical space, but we’ve embraced technology and spend great amounts of time emailing, texting and talking on the phone. We approached our friendship with more effort and commitment since I moved. We tried harder and make it more special. We have to make each time we see the other count for more. Sometimes when see each other, its like the recharging of a battery, sitting on the sofa in our jammies sharing music from one computer to the other all day long. Other times its just going as hard and fast as we can, like the weekend we spent shopping and drinking martinis from the moment we woke until we fell exhausted into sleep after a midnight movie, only to get up and do it all over again.
I worry about the time and distance…that it did create a bit more distance emotional distance, not just physical distance…especially recently, since I began seeing YBW. It was hard for her, to feel like someone had become more important to me than she. Of course that isn’t the case…there will never be another human being who is truly a part of my soul the way this Sundance girl is.
She has seen me through every trial, every bit of fear and sadness. Through all my joys, and there have been many. I have hurt her so deeply, as she has me, but we heal and become stronger. We become better people and in turn, better friends. She has taught me the value of having that one person who, no matter what, will stick with you when all the others run screaming for the hills.
And really, what more could I ask for?