I haven’t posted in a few days and so I sat down tonight with the typical cobwebs in my mind – it’s hard to find inspiration when you get a bit out of practice – even for a few days.
Then the DailyPrompt came along in my Reader. It asked me to talk about best friends and the light bulb came on; this is a topic about which I could write a million posts even though it only applies to one single person in my life. In a few short words, here is what Best Friends means to me.
I met my best friend in daycare, many many moons ago. She pushed me down the slide and then convinced me not to tell on her. She was the daring youngest daughter of three; I was the prim and proper only child (translation: brat). Not telling the teacher went against all the principles that were developing in my righteous only-child heart, even at such a tender age. As adults we laugh when we tell this story, but for me this was my first experience in sharing a bond with another person who was not related to me by blood.
My parents gave me a middle class upbringing and my best friend came from a family of limited means, but honestly I never noticed the difference. The fact that she lived in subsidized housing was beyond my comprehension until well past high school when she mentioned it one day in passing. I have probably never been the greatest at sharing but sharing with her just became a given – after a while I just stopped questioning it.
As children we shared our silliest dreams: she wanted to be a teacher and I wanted to be a lawyer. In her basement we fashioned a surprisingly robust classroom for an assortment of stuffed animals and spent hours crafting fictitious homework assignments only to spend more hours marking them (we had some very smart stuffed bears!). In my basement was the law firm where we met equally-stuffed clients and marched around with little dossiers made from the hodge-podge of office supplies my mother brought home from her administrative job at a major company.
I grew up to major in criminal justice and slid right into a job in community corrections straight out of university. She struggled in school and it was a challenge to get into teachers college at a time when everyone who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives went to teachers college. She went all the way to Australia to get the teaching degree she coveted and deserved. I have never been so happy and proud of another human being’s accomplishments as I was when she landed her first full-time teaching position. Every year there are thirty-or-so children who have the privilege to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with a woman who dreamed about and prepared for this job her whole life. A woman who, despite the obstacles and hardships, cherishes every moment. I want to write a note to each and every parent to make sure they know exactly how blessed they are.
Naturally, we’ve each been through our fair share of heartbreaks. Despite having one terrible break-up in school, the hardest by far for me was the death of my father. My best friend sat through every hour of every day of the wake and visitation, and came to the funeral, and hugged me afterwards. It didn’t matter that I was busy with greeting the mourners or old friends or talking to family. I so clearly remember looking around the funeral home and seeing her sitting there, off to the side, by herself, just there for me.
As adults, we live in different cities. We are busy and we don’t talk on the phone every day. Sometimes too much time passes and we haven’t checked in. Often this is my fault as I am notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people. But with her, it is always and without fail as if we have never missed a beat. There is no judgement, there is no resentment or bitterness. Just love and friendship and laughter.
Of course our relationship is not perfect, but it is the damned near closest to perfect of almost any relationship I’ve ever had. We don’t live close enough to have girls nights, to go for manicures or shopping or lunches. But we accept each other, and we encourage each other. We support each other – fiercely.
Loyalty. Unconditional. Driven. Passionate. Steadfast. If I have any good qualities, in some part they are due to her. She taught me these things. This is what a best friend is to me.