I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You're My Best Friend

In this weekend's Age 'Good Weekend' magazine there was an article about the value of having a best friend, and the importance of a good, close, (in this case female) relationship. The article itself was pretty misguided in so far as it just seemed like a chronicle of their relationship - which, as it turns out, was really rather more intimate than that of just friends. It didn't really tell you anything much about best friendships, or the value of them.

I mentioned this article to two friends of mine - and while most of our conversation was around the fact that the article was crappy, one comment stuck in my head. The Neighbour's Wife said, "Who has a single best friend any more? That's just so fourth grade!" Now as someone who HAS a single best friend, my first inclination was to get defensive...but my second was just to file that comment away and have a good ol' think about it. Plus I met my best friend in the fourth grade, so just that made me laugh at the irony of her comment.

My best friend and I have not been 'together' in the daily or even weekly sense of the word since we were about 15. We're now both 34, and we met when we were about 9. So for 6 years, we went to school together every day and talked on the phone and basically lived at one another's houses. After that, we went to different schools, then different colleges, then lived in multiple different countries and even today we don't live in the same place. So for the last 19 years of our friendship, we have not had daily contact. In fact, due to travel and illness and just this thing called life, months would go by without us having any contact at all. And yet, she's still my best friend. The tyranny of distance means I just can't call and have a chat, or go out for a coffee, or have her come over to hang out. She isn't privy to the goings on of my daily life (even though we're pretty good at emailing) and I'm not privy to hers. I have friends who I confide in far more often, friends who I see far more often, and friends who I would run to in an emergency - but all those are because they are HERE and NOW and it just makes more sense.

Why then, is an old friend who I hardly see - why is she still the person I consider my best friend? Well, in part it's because she was there before I became the ME that I am now - so she knows me better than anyone else on the planet. In part it's because I know I can say or do just about anything, and she'll understand. We can walk into a room after years apart and just pick up the conversation where we left off. There is no judgement, there is no accusation, there is no 'coulda shoulda woulda', no secrets and no lies ... it just plain works as well today as it did when we were 9. We grew up, we moved on, we changed dramatically...and yet still the things which drew us together as awkward geeky 9 year olds still draw us together as awkward geeky 34 year olds.

Now I know full well that I am missing out on enormous parts of her life, and she is missing out on whole expanses of my life. Plain and simple, it sucks to not live anywhere near your best friend. However, the fact that all that missing out makes not one single zot of difference to our friendship is exactly why I am proud of having a "fourth grade" single best friend. Being a grown up, though, means that there is room in my life for more than one - and so I also enjoy every second of having best friends who I can talk with until 2am on a Saturday night and none of us feel like no-life losers.

I suppose the difference between then and now is that we don't feel any need to attach labels like "best friends" to the people we spend our time with. No need for cutesy necklace heart charms which snap in half, no need for matching t-shirts or declarations of being "bestest friends 4 eva" written on school notebooks.

...but secretly? If I could, I probably would. Because I like having best friends, and being a best friend - no matter how fourth grade that makes me.

1 comment:

TAO said...

I LOVE the path this post took! How 'bout just remove the mirror--with the way your post ends I don't want your kids, or mine, to see in the mirror! As my mom used to tell me when I was growing up (and she wanted to slow time) "I'm gonna' put a brick on your head!", as if this would stop my growth. Now I say it to my kids. :-) Time goes way too fast.