You know those women with one best friend?
A friend like a sister, a forever partner in crime, and a soulmate. The sort of epic friendship that requires girls’ weekends and nights out. Giggling, crying, gossiping, empire building, problem-solving, and world domination. Makeup, feminist ideology, and the merits of comfortable yet attractive shoes. Life-renewing, empowering friendship. A treasured friend to hold your hair when you’re vomiting, who has your back in a bar fight (or, you know, a really heated debate), and someone who reassures you that carrot sticks and canned tuna really are an adequate dinner for your child. The sort of friendship that endures and outlasts all other relationships.
I used to be one of those women. I wish I still was.
I miss the twosome-ness of having one best friend.
I’ve become more of a serial best friend-er, or a friendship polygamist, if you prefer, and while I can glibly joke that “best friend” is more of a special tier with me, filled with a cadre of amazing people, I feel sad and left out because it has been so long since anyone has claimed me, and my friendship above all others. I also know myself, my Golden Retriever personality, and how much I adore getting to know each new person I meet. Maybe I don’t have the attention span to satisfy one friend anymore. I don’t think that’s the answer though…
I met my first best friend in third grade. She was clever, fiercely invested in fairness, and wholeheartedly as boy-crazy as I was. We met, organized all the kids around us into cooperative and inclusive groups, and never did a single thing that didn’t originate from our own rebellious and stubborn minds. Even now I feel vaguely guilty for the speech teacher who absolutely did not teach us anything, because we were too busy laughing and gleefully lisping, wasting all of her time and efforts.
Then I moved. Elementary school kids in the 1980s weren’t great at staying in touch. After many years of being apart, we have reunited, and it is lovely, like our friendship has come full circle.
I still see the awkward, foolishly hopeful kids we were when I look at her, and we still laugh at the same jokes because we haven’t really matured at all.
I didn’t have another best friend until high school. When we met, we both immediately dismissed each other. I found her childish, and she thought I was superficial. As it turned out, we were both just a little mean and fit together perfectly. She is smart, humble, and has the ability to cut through bullsh*t like no one I’ve ever met. She helped me define myself and was my friend when I was miserable and dark on the inside. When we parted ways to go to separate colleges, I barely remembered who I was without her. It hurts my heart that she lives so far away and that I still haven’t met her seven-year-old daughter.
I met my next best friend my sophomore year in college. She was the prettiest and most clever person I had ever met. Sharp-witted, genuine, warm-hearted, and worldly… within minutes of meeting her, she had me howling with laughter as we shirked our resident advisor training and snuck off to get junk food for lunch. I was a total goody-goody and had never even skipped a class before. Skipping a training session made me sweaty with panic and exhilaration. Skipping training to go have a taco? Shocking, ridiculous, and delightful. Everything about her was shiny and exhilarating: her curly hair, brown doe eyes, endless eyelashes, faint scent of cinnamon gum, and the way she masterfully shifted gears and changed radio stations at the same time.
Somehow we couldn’t sustain the beautiful passion of our friendship. It became apparent that she no longer wanted to be my friend, seven years after we met, and my heart broke. It wasn’t a falling out, or a friendship breakup in the traditional sense. We didn’t have an argument. We didn’t disagree. It just ended.
I think we were so close that we didn’t leave room for growth or change, and eventually our relationship became stagnant and competitive.
Her absence feels awkward and incomplete and makes me disconnect from my college experience.
Since then, I have never once named anyone as my sole best friend. I have a tier of best friends, who I love completely, but there is no one person who I claim, or who claims me in return.
I have the most wonderful, amazing friends. They are smart, beautiful, generous, loving, passionate, and constantly remind me that life can be happy, and enjoyable. But I still miss having a best friend– from the deep connections and the endless laughter, to the always knowing who will be by my side in a pinch. And of course, the special-ness of it all- the feeling of being someone’s top choice. I am no one’s top choice and I regularly feel entirely alone in this world. Am I best friend-less because I am 41, and a parent? Do I smell bad? Is my near constant verbal diarrhea off-putting? Are we all too busy to invest in adult friendships? Or have all the partnered people married their best friend? I really don’t know.