The thing about being on a road trip alone is that in addition to giving me a lot of time to sing Broadway show tunes to keep myself awake, it also gives me a lot of time to think. I have the kind of mind that wanders at the speed of a gajillion thoughts a minute, and when I’m alone and have time to listen to it, I am given a lot of food for thought.
Today (Arizona to New Mexico to Colorado) I kept coming back to the theme of friendship. When I was little, the coolest thing in the world was to have a best friend. Only thing was, I didn’t really like the idea of having a best friend, because it made it sound like everyone else wasn’t as important to me. So one day, for my journal entry (I think it was first grade when we had required journaling), I started listing all my “best” friends. “My first best friend is ___. My second best friend is ___. My third best friend is ___…” I think I got to somewhere in the twenties before I ran out of paper in the journal. Some listed were close friends. Some were family members. Some were teachers. Some were acquaintances. And I think at least one was a cat. But the point is that even then, I think that on some level I knew that there was no such thing as a “best friend” to me – and that I would prefer to be surrounded by lots of best friends than to have to pick just one.
As I got older, that didn’t change. I had my “best friend” from the neighborhood with whom I made obstacle courses in the living room and played Tetris while we pondered the meaning of life (at age 11). I had my “best friend” from the bus stop and we shared secrets about who our favorite boys were in 7th grade. I had many “best friends” in high school who served as both study pals and partners in crime, and one who I even followed to college. In college, I made even more “best friends”- my roommate of 4 years who was goofy and serious and a perfect compliment to me, the women in my a cappella group who all lent their voices and personalities to create such beautiful music, freshman hall acquaintances that grew into friends both while in college and after graduation, and friends outside of that realm who brought new joy and laughter to my life.
Post-college, I found out quickly that it’s harder to find those friends. In school, I was surrounded by people of the same age, and with similar interests, and it was easy to make friends and keep them. After college, I became a little fish in a really large ocean, and it was hard to find people with whom I really connected – the kinds of people who made me laugh and challenged my way of thinking and supported me unconditionally and who knew what I was thinking without me needing to say a word. I did find them, though, and many have become very close friends.
A few years ago, I had a best friend I had to let go of. Due to a complicated situation and geography, it seemed easier to let go than to try to force a friendship that was no longer there. Recently, I reconnected with this friend, and was amazed at how well we both put the things we learned from our challenged relationship into practice. All the things that had made this person my “best friend” years ago were still there – only the other, negative, things had been replaced by positive. Where there had not been communication, there now was. Where there had been dependence, there was none.
Another friend I had thought I wouldn’t see again resurfaced in my life this past year as well, and right after we reconnected, this friend’s life got pretty complicated. I was fortunate enough to be able to see this friend almost weekly, over the course of the past few months, and was astounded at how we just picked up right where we left off, and at how close I felt to this friend and her child, despite the fact that they had only resurfaced in my life a few months before.
It always amazes me – the irony of life – when I rediscover a best friend just in time to move across the country – knowing that circumstances will more than likely lead to another hiatus in our friendship – or at least limit the growth of the friendship while we’re apart. I hate that instead of building friendships face-to-face, I’ll have to rely on phone and email and blogs to find out how these people who have again become so important to me are doing.
I have learned that there is very little I can control in my life (whether I like it or not). There have been friendships I had every intention of keeping that somehow slipped through my hands, and friendships I had resigned myself to letting go of, that have somehow held on tight.
I guess the whole point to this entry is appreciation for all of me “best friends” – those I’ve known for most of my life… those I have just discovered… those I’ve lost… and those I’ve rediscovered.
To all my BFFs (or “BFsF”- to be grammatically correct): thank you for the important roles you have played in my life – many without knowing it. I’m sorry for the relationships that didn’t work out. I’m grateful for the ones that did. And for those few in between – the surprise reconnections – I’m glad we’ve had the chance to get it right.