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It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend

–“For Good” from Wicked

I heard a wonderful story a few weeks ago. (I hope the woman who told me it won’t mind that I’m summarizing it here.  I unfortunately didn’t get her name, and have no way of contacting her, but if she reads this, know that when I tried to retell it to my husband, I burst into tears in the car.)

A woman had a best friend that she spoke to every day at least twice a day — first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.  They raised their children together, their husbands were business colleagues.  Down the road, after a move severed the first threads of their friendship, the relationship ended after the woman’s divorce.  Her husband took that couple into his circle of friends.

34 years passed, and the woman never stopped thinking of her friend.  She knew she would be in New York on a trip, which is where this woman lived.  So she called her and they set up a time to meet.  When the friend came down the steps, she said a special saying that the two of them used to recite about their friendship.  And in that moment, this woman knew that it hadn’t been unrequited love — that her friend had missed her just as much as she had missed her friend.  They had both thought of each other for 34 years.  And now, they’re finally back together again.

She told me this story because I was in New York, speaking about my book, Life from Scratch, which is about female friendships just as much as it is about rebuilding your life after a divorce or blogging.  I opened talking about the book by relaying some stories from my friendship with Julie and how they influenced the book.

As she spoke, I thought about friends who got away.  About friends who passed through my life for a few years, who were intense connections that for whatever reason didn’t continue.  And isn’t this what we all dream about — that we find out that the relationship meant exactly as much to the other person?  That they missed us just as much as we missed them?

What is it about our female friendships that make us cry when we try to talk about them?  I can’t tell you how many people tried to speak to me after the talk and got choked up as they relayed a story about their best friend.  And even worse, I don’t know this woman OR her friend, but when I tried to tell her story to Josh, I started crying because you can’t help but think of your own friendships — how you would feel if you ever lost them.

As we drove home, Josh told me about an NPR interview he heard with Stephen Schwartz who wrote the musical Wicked.  A song from the show, “For Good,” was featured in both Glee and the last Oprah show.  It is a song about two friends — one who has had many friendships and one who has only had this one — who have to part.  And they are saying everything that needs to be said to one another knowing they may never see each other again.

Stephen Schwartz, by virtue of the fact that he has a penis, didn’t know how to handle this idea.  How would two close female friends feel?  He asked his daughter to imagine what she would say to her best friend in this situation.

In the NPR interview, Stephen Schwartz says that his daughter told him:

She said no matter what person I become, there will always be in me the girl you knew, and no matter who I become, I would never have been that without knowing you.

And maybe that is why we connect so intensely with our female friends.  I can’t say those same words to my ex-boyfriends.  They were all well and good, but I don’t miss them like I miss my old female friends.  I can’t say that inside of me is still the girl that my ex-boyfriend-who-has-a-heart-the-size-of-a-rancid-sesame-seed knew.  He knew a side of me that I’m not proud of and has hopefully been squashed out of my existence.  I didn’t like who I was when I was with him.

Whereas that girl that my friend, J, knew in high school (who was a very different girl than the one my boyfriends at the time saw.  She got to see a deeper side of me that I didn’t reveal to many people) — she’s still buried somewhere in here.  J knew the essential Melissa; Melissa-boiled-down-to-her-core-traits.  And that Melissa is still around, completely changed and set on this life direction due to that friendship.  And I would agree with Stephen Schwartz’s assessment — if not for better, than at least it is for good.  I don’t think I could make a conscious choice not to incorporate the changes she created in me.  Our friendship changed me permanently; as do all my close female friendships.

I think the point of our relationships prior to the person you create a life with is to help you figure out who you want to love forever.  Dating is about figuring out what you want.  Friendships — those are about figuring out who you are.  What matters to you.  How you see the world.  And one day, hopefully if our female friendships have prepared us enough, we can take what we learn from them and make that man or woman we commit our lives to our best friend.

Which is not to say that our best friends don’t still have important work to do.  People evolve, and we need that support to navigate each change.  From the tiny readjustments of personality that come from a normal day, to the life changing events.

I could not have found Josh and become a good wife without my female friendships shaping me into the person I’ve become.  I could not continue to parent and love in the manner in which my family has become accustomed if not for the continued support of my friends.

I asked this of the programmers at the presentation (and so many people found me afterwards and answered it — I heard some wonderful stories that night.  People speak so effusively about their friends that I could almost picture these invisible people who were connected to the people in front of me).

Tell me about your best friend (and if any of it influences a character relationship in the sequel to Life from Scratch, you and your friend will get full credit in the thank you section).


1 Justine { 06.28.11 at 8:34 am }

Actually, it’s weird … I don’t think I have any friends like this. I’ve always had trouble connecting with women (one reason why I so appreciate the community I’ve found here online) … growing up I was teased and sort of an outcast (I went to school in a town where my mom taught, about half an hour from where we lived), and though there are two friends I’ve kept from high school, I don’t talk much with either of them any more, and I don’t feel like I miss them in the way you describe. But we were friends more because we were all left out and left over than because we really liked each other. In college, I had a bunch of friends, but we have developed in our separate ways, though we keep up on FB. One of them may have had the intensity you’re talking about. I’ve made a bunch of friends as an adult in the place where we’ve settled, but though I do love these people, I’m not sure they’re like what you’re describing here, either. My most powerful friendships have had a written component. All of these relationships have shaped me, but I’ve often wondered if there’s something *wrong* with me … or if other women have had a similar non-standard experience!

2 Justine { 06.28.11 at 8:38 am }

(and hopefully people will not now think I’m a sociopath …!) 🙂

3 April { 06.28.11 at 8:56 am }

My best friend was met at summer camp. She and I bonded quickly and became inseperable every year at this camp. She was one of the few people I would actually write letters to during the year. We shared our secret crushes, comforted each other when our hearts were broken, shared hopes, dreams, and even discussed going to college together just so we could room together, even though in the end we decided to go to different schools. We lived on opposite ends of the state and were only allowed to call each other on the phone a few times a year because of the long distance cost. Yet through it all, we remained freinds. We lost touch after college when we both moved out of our home state and then she moved out of country.

Through a random group e-mail sent through some old camp friends, I found her e-mail address and opened lines of communication. In the years since we had spoken, I had married and had started down the road of infertility. She was engaged and living overseas, but was coming home to visit and would actually be landing in my town. This restarted our friendship to e-mailing and keeping in contact again. We had never forgotten each other and we had missed each other. When she got married, I celebrated for her happiness. When the first rounds of clomid didn’t work for me, she cried with me. When her mother was in a fire and was airlifted to a hospital here, I went to be with her mom and then took her there when she arrived in country. I stayed and held her hand and held her while she sobbed after seeing her. When her mother was finally able to go home, I offered to throw a party. When he son was born, I celebrated with joy for her.

We have a history together that is complex and simple all at the same time. We are friends.

4 It Is What It Is { 06.28.11 at 9:18 am }

After the crash and burn of three very important “best’ female friendships, I no longer have what I would call a best friend. That makes me very sad to say, but it is true. I have several close, inner circle friends, that all rolled up create a best friend, but don’t have a bestie that I call daily and share the intimate and mind numbing tid-bits from from my day or my life.

I’m a bit of a lightning rod in women’s lives so it goes that some of my deepest, most connected friendships are no more. And, while I do miss them, I don’t think we are destined to re-connect. For whatever reason, and even though two of those friendships spanned more than a decade, and while I didn’t know it at the time, they were destined to be finite periods of my life (cherish them as I do).

I do want to disagree that ex-boyfriends don’t teach us about who we are. I think that in order to ‘figure out who you want to love forever’ you have to be damn sure of who you are and what you DON’T want in a mate and a girl friend can’t provide those kernels to you in the same way. I had a decade long love relationship with someone I never would have married, but during that time, he was my best friend, my soul mate, and I learned more about myself from him than from any single other person (or several other persons combined).

I do thing that deep and abiding friendships are critical in the lives of women.

5 figgymommy { 06.28.11 at 10:10 am }

Like Justine above, I never really have had friends like that either. It’s longer and more complicated than I can get into while leaving a quick comment from work, but I do find those kinds of things fascinating (as well as trying to figure out why I don’t have them).

6 Bea { 06.28.11 at 10:13 am }

Sometimes I think I have been more profoundly shaped by my denial of who my female friends think I am or want me to be, than by an embracement of same. I seem to have better luck with male friendships sometimes. Then again, reading this post, maybe I have luck – a backwards kind, but nonetheless – with female friends after all.


7 tash { 06.28.11 at 10:26 am }

I have this friend. We met in Jr. Hi and became best friends in HS. At one point she started dating an ex a little too quickly and we had a falling out which we then rectified and later laughed hilariously about (because this guy? To say it wasn’t worth it doesn’t really do the situation justice). We clicked, we connected, we shared probably way too much. We kept up a friendship in college, and a teeny bit in grad school. We attended each other’s weddings. And then it just stopped. But the funny thing I wanted to say is whenever we saw each other, even if it had been years and we were attending a mutual friend’s wedding, we started talking like we had just spoken yesterday. And the really weird thing was that we often used the same sayings and turns of phrase even now, even though we hadn’t spoken to each other in forever. It was as if those words meant something to us separately and equally and we latched onto them and here the other person did, too. It reminded me of when my mom finally travelled across country and visited her sister after almost a decade and here they both had bought the exact same dining room table.

I had some v. close female friends in grad school but it appears that my life got a bit complicated for them because they almost all fell away. Which is a shame. At times I have half a mind to just cold call one of them because I miss them awfully.

8 Denver Laura { 06.28.11 at 10:30 am }

I had a friend whom I met our senior year in high school when she transferred into my school. We hit it off and became best friends. When my ex was wallowing in his addiction, I could call her at 2 am and she would just listen. When her father got sick and eventually passed away, she called me every night for a month just to cry on the phone. She drove to the city I was living in for just a day before I moved out of state to say “see ya later” because it was never goodbye. I see her every once in a while on business trips. She lives an hour away from one of our corporate offices.

A few weeks ago I got some strange text messages (she’s stopped responding to voice mails). She talked about how she will always love me and I need to remember that no matter what happens. She’s done this before and it scared the crap out of me. She’s recently lost a job and her house. Her mom is in poor health. I’ve tried helping but I don’t think she’s in a place right now to accept help. I haven’t been unfriended on fb yet but I feel like there is a chasm that we may not be able to jump over any more.

9 Bea { 06.28.11 at 10:51 am }

Yeah, ok. I’m going to follow that up with a kind of story. Best friend in high school, spent a lot of time treating me like some sort of life-sized doll. Dress me up, make me over, etc. I didn’t mind if I was in the mood or as long as it was just a surface renovation, so to speak, but I had my line and sooner or later we were bound to fight over it.

I remember one day (now at uni) I just really flipped at her over the phone. (Blah blah won’t bore you with the back story but she was criticising certain of my actions and telling me I ought to change my ways, clincher being that she really didn’t know enough about the situation she was referring to and for various reasons more personal to her life than mine, hadn’t really tried very hard to see things from my view.) Anyway I really, really flipped at her and it was the first time I’d actually spoken back to her instead of just letting things go, as I usually had in the past, or calmly and diplomatically navigating my way through, as I’d occasionally been forced to do.

We didn’t totally lose touch but we saw less and less of each other over the next five/seven(?) years or so. One day I opened up my inbox and there was an unexpected email from her. I hadn’t heard from her for well over a year at this point, might have been over two years. The email was obviously a meme, where you were supposed to enter certain thoughts about the receiver and then send it to them. It was supposed to be sent to someone you admired, and you were supposed to explain why you admired them. Apparently she admired that I would try and seriously look at the other person’s viewpoint, and that I would readily adapt to accommodate people without being the sort of wishy-washy pushover you sometimes get with those traits. In fact, she said I had one of the strongest personalities of anyone she’d met, and she admired the way I could put my foot down when I needed to.

It’s a bit funny, because one of the things I specifically wanted in a partner/husband was a person who would try and see it my way but would only aim to please *up to a point*. I needed someone who would stick up for themselves in order to achieve a fair balance, rather than a pushover (or an uncompromising bastard, but I seem to recall thinking I was more in danger of the former?). I guess I was after someone who would try to understand more than please. You have to understand to broker a fair agreement. You don’t have to try and do that if you’re prepared to just give in all the time. People will say they want their own way in a relationship but do they really or is it better to understand and be understood, even if that means giving in more? Anyway. I’m not sure what my main point is here, I guess I just never thought of myself that way until she sent that email. I wondered if the passage of time and perhaps that incident had skewed her remembrance of me. I didn’t know how to respond to it, but at the same time I was quite glad she remembered me that way and felt that I could really aspire to be that person (as opposed to the human doll/loyal follower I thought she’d wanted me to be and perhaps she did want that at one point, who knows).

On the other hand, I do have a string of other friendships that lost their shine because I wasn’t fitting in to what the other girl wanted and there was no followup email after we’d almost lost touch to say I’d been admired for my refusal. But one’s good, hey? One is all you need for inspiration.


10 Elizabeth { 06.28.11 at 11:44 am }

I’ve been thinking about this very topic a lot lately, maybe because I’m in a position of needing to make new friends while maintaining long-distance connections. I think in some respects I’m a really good friend but in others I suck.

11 Heather { 06.28.11 at 11:59 am }

I have a few very good close female friendships and I’d hate to lose them. I have caught up with my old best friend from high school even before Facebook came around. We ran into each other in a ladies room when we were out in a restaurant in our old hometown a few years ago and it was like no time had ever passed. And I understand exactly what you wrote. This old friend knows what I was like when I was in high school, and there is a part of me that still is that young woman. I love that she knows that part of me and we are still friends to this day.

12 tara { 06.28.11 at 12:15 pm }

I agree with Justine- I don’t have this strong connection to the great female friend. I’ve had guy friends who have been absolutely great- particularly this one from college who I sort of dated but who encouraged me to become who I am today. He seemed to find everything I said fascinating, wanted me to try new foods, etc., really encouraged me to like who I am and be more confident. But then we sort of broke-up (because we were only sort of dating) and he graduated and just disappeared. I look for him on facebook or alumni stuff periodically but although he was all over the net when we were in college, he has absolutely no web presence now. I would love to know that he is happy & well.

13 JDragonfly { 06.28.11 at 12:45 pm }

I met my best friend when I was 11 and she was 12. We’ve been through so much together – traumas and joys, marriages, a child and a divorce (hers), and now infertility (mine). In 20 years of friendship, there have been peaks and valleys in terms of how often we communicate (at times we’ve talked daily, at others months have passed between phone calls). There have also been times when we’ve hesitated to share something with one another because of a fear of judgment, but no matter the disclosure, when it’s finally made we’ve always been closer for it. The key to our friendship has been that even when we don’t understand the other’s *experience*, we do understand one another as people. And we encourage one another to be our personal bests – to keep growing and loving and fighting for what we envisioned for our lives when we were just a couple of little girls. I’m so lucky to have her in my life. I can’t imagine life without her…

14 loribeth { 06.28.11 at 12:56 pm }

In the years that I was in grades 3 through 7, we lived in a small town and there was a family across the street with three daughters who were approximately the same ages as my younger sister & me (the middle daughter was in my class at school & was probably the closest to me, although we were all close). We were like sisters. We walked to school together, played together, rode our bikes together, went camping together, fantasized about David Cassidy, the Osmond Brothers & the Bay City Rollers together, took holidays together. There are certain stories about our antics that have become legendary within our families. ; ) People used to ask us if we were sisters. We might not have been genetically, but I would say we were sisters of the heart, & I still feel that way.

Even after we moved away, grew up and went off to different universities, we stayed in touch — there were letters, phone calls & visits several times a year. The middle daughter & I spent something like 15 consecutive New Year’s Eves together, until we both got married. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding, her older sister sang & her younger sister minded the guest book. I made special trips home so that I could be at each of their weddings (travelling through the aftermath of an ice storm to get there, in one case…!). When I lost my baby girl, their mom (who had also lost a baby girl at birth) was one of the first people to call me, and my bridesmaid was not far behind. She & her sisters sent me a little angel statue — specifically named “Katie” — as a gesture of love & remembrance.

Like Tash’s story above, we don’t see each other very often these days. Our parents stay in touch, & we hear about each other through them. None of them are very into e-mail or (heaven forbid) Facebook, & we don’t even talk on the phone very often — I think it’s a carry over from when we were kids, long distance was expensive and our moms would only let us talk for about five minutes after they’d had a chance to talk first. ; )

But whenever we do get together, we pick up where we last left off & the years just melt away. I’ve seen the younger & older daughter a fair bit (the older one has stayed at my house a few times when she’s been in the area), but my bridesmaid & I hadn’t seeen each other in 15 years & we hadn’t all been together in something like 16 years. All five of us reunited (albeit just for one evening) at my parents’ 50th anniversary party last summer, & nope, there wasn’t a dry eye among us. ; )

I highly recommend “The Girls from Ames” by Jeffrey Zaslow as a study in female friendship that has endured over the years. : )

15 Mary { 06.28.11 at 1:11 pm }

I really only have one very good female friend. K and I met in high school, but really didn’t know each other all that well. In college, we reconnected, and started spending a lot of time together, mostly driving around, smoking cigarettes and listening to really great music.

Then, she hired me for my first real job, which was waiting tables at a retirement community, and taught me how to serve left and remove right. We would go out for dinner almost every Friday night, taking turns paying the tab.

Over the years, we’ve shared so much. She broke my finger (it was an accident), but stayed up all night to help me keep ice on it. I nearly let her get hit by a car in Vegas on the day before her wedding, and then ran around town for bandaids and peroxide. I helped her keep her divorced parents from killing each other at her wedding, and she came to the rescue when I forgot to bring my makeup to mine.

Her son was born premature at 26 weeks due, they think, to an incompetent cervix, and mine was born four years later at 28 due to preeclampsia/HELLP. When C was born, I sent him the first baby blanket I ever knitted. When B was born, she sent me a huge box of all of the supplies I’d need while B was in the hospital, preemie clothes, snacks, crossword puzzles, pens, and thank you cards.

We don’t live near to each other anymore, and we’ve never met our “nephews.” Her husband doesn’t know mine at all. We don’t talk often, but when we do, it is a downloading of all of the things that have happened to us since we last talked, rather than a reconnecting. The basics never change because she is she and I am I, and our hearts are knitted together.

16 a { 06.28.11 at 1:37 pm }

My best friend and I met in grade school. My first memory of her (and she sort of hates when I mention it) is when she was about 8 and I was 9 and we were at the park. She was hanging upside down off of the monkey bars and yelling “Hi!” to me. Not that unusual, except A) I had no idea who she was or why she was talking to me, and B) she was hanging upside down on the monkey bars in a dress.

Anyway, I love her, she loves me, and we only get to see each other about once or twice a year. I call her occasionally. She’ll call me if she’s worried about me for some reason. But it’s really enough for us. Her life is very busy, and she has a lot of friends. My life is fairly busy and I like peace and quiet.

I don’t have a lot of female friendships – I prefer quality over quantity. I also find it easier to hang out with guys. For one thing, they don’t really expect you to make small talk – and it doesn’t take much to get them to start spouting their own ideas – so I don’t have any sort of conversational burden.

17 Gail { 06.28.11 at 2:58 pm }

I read this post this morning and have been thinking about it off and on all day and can honestly say that I have no life-long friends. And, that kind of makes me sad. I have had tons of friends in my life and have had a number of friends that I would call “best friends”, but none have stood the test of time. My first best friend and I went to kindergarten together and were in in the same school all the way through college. However, our friendship parted ways long before when we were in middle school when she was involved in different sports than me and we stopped spending every waking moment together. We recently reconnected on FB, but it is a very casual thing and there hasn’t been any major sharing.

My next best friend and I were best friends through high school and most of college. We had a lot in common in that we were both involved in similar activities yet both of us were at the awkward teenage stage and could relate to feeling like we wanted to belong to certain groups yet not being accepted. We began to grow apart towards the end of college (we went to different schools and had different interests/majors) and our friendship ended a few years later.

I met my first male best friend when he and I attended freshman orientation together in college and became good friends. I had a crush on him at the beginning, but soon realized that the friendship was what I wanted and we had a great time together. In fact, we even shared an apartment together one year. Although we’ve stayed in touch since college, we haven’t seen each other in 10 years. We used to call each other at random times and catch up, but I don’t remember the last phone call that we shared. He is now married with a 1 year old.

Since getting married 11 years ago, my husband and I have lived in 4 different states. In each state, I have made good friends. But, I haven’t managed to keep in touch with the majority of them other than through the annual Christmas cards. There is one exception to this and that is my friend old next door neighbor. Even though we live 600 miles apart now, we still talk fairly often and keep in touch through FB although we haven’t seen each other in 3 years. She is pregnant and due with her first baby any day now and that has created a wedge in our friendship because she doesn’t understand what it means to be infertile and I can only take so much pregnancy discussion before I get off the phone. I wish our friendship could go back, but I don’t think that is possible.

In our current home state, I have made a few close female friends. Each one has a purpose. One friend is my adventurous friend and we travel together, often as couples with her husband and my husband. She and her husband are also living without children and it helps to see another couple in our situation and know that we are not alone even though that is not what the friendship is based on. Another friend in the area is willing to listen to me and give me ideas. Her son is our Godson and she experienced pregnancy loss before him, so she understands about IF. A third friendship has recently started with a former co-worker. She and I are both experiencing IF and our friendship blossomed from that. We mostly converse through email, but it doesn’t make the friendship any less strong.

I guess my longest friendship is with my husband. We’ve been married for 11 years, but together for 14 years. So, I am rapidly approaching a point in my life where I’ll have known him longer than I didn’t know him. He also doesn’t have many close friends, so we feel extra close. We share everything and support one another in everything. And, if I had to choose between having one female best friend or a husband that is also my best friend, I’d pick my husband any day.

18 Mo { 06.28.11 at 4:37 pm }

I feel so incredibly blessed because I have SEVERAL friends like this. Each one is from a different period of my life, and each one plays a different role in my life. One lives in another country, but because we used to be roommates she knows things about me that most people don’t, and usually when I have a big decision to make, I go straight to her because she’s like family. She will always be honest and insightful and say just the right thing. Another was my best friend in High School. We had some drama that pulled us apart for almost a decade, but somehow we managed to bounce back. Today, I don’t come to her in times of crisis, but somehow we always manage to be there for each other. She’s also the person I go to when I just feel like being silly. We have our own special “language” that we’ve used since the age of 15, and now, 16 years later, we still jump straight into it as if nothing has changed. That is such a huge comfort. The third has been my close friend for 14 years, and just gets closer and closer as the years go by. We speak 2-3 times a day, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without her.
I think close female friends are so incredibly important. I know that they are where I go when I need both a nice dose of honesty or a healthy dose of comfort.

19 Seriously?! { 06.28.11 at 6:22 pm }

Wow, this is great. I love talking about my friendships. I’m blessed with many girlfriends, and through the crap of the past 5 years, i’ve been able to see who is still standing by my side. Maintaining relationships with great people is really important to me, it’s who I am. Social, advocate, outspoken, anal.. blah blah blah. Each one of them speaks to and highlights certain aspects of personality. It’s truly incredible, like this magnificant melting pot that we’re all a part of!

I often blog about my girlfriends. And while I may call just one or two my ‘best’ friend, I do feel like I have lots of ‘besties’ that play important roles in my life. Some are like sisters, they know who they are, long time childhood friends. On my blog, I’ve nicknamed some of them, the following names almost speak to what they give me in terms of fulfilling my relationship needs:

24/7 Friend
Winking Friend
Listening Friend
BBB (Bed Breaking Buddy)
Kindred Spirited Cousin

Of course my husband is also very close to me, but there is just something about the women in my life that are irreplaceable. And I wouldn’t ever want M (hubby) to take on their role, because it’s THEIR role in my life.

I’ve found that ‘naming’ them on my blog, allows both of us to recognize the role we play in our relationship with one another. And it is a treasured role, one that only the two of us understand.

I found many connections to the friendship that was presented in Life From Scratch. I loved that about the way you wrote, like in a voice that many women could totally relate to. It’s like this bloggy world. Somehow, our favourite blogs seem to fit into the needs that fulfill us. Well, that’s how it works for me.

Thanks for the opportunty to reflect about my girls. 😉

20 slowmamma { 06.28.11 at 6:32 pm }

I’ve come to realize recently that my personal definition of friendship has shifted over the years. I couldn’t imagine my life without the close female friends that have been there for me at each phase. Fortunately, as someone who has moved around a fair amount, there have been many and I couldn’t agree more that these women are all part of me. That is what makes reuniting with any of them so special; it’s almost like an opportunity to revisit a former version of yourself, to go back to middle school or summer camp or whatever.

Because being friends with someone typically occurs under shared circumstances and life circumstances are continually changing, I’ve come to view it more as an action than a noun (I’m aware that using the word friend as a verb is not particularly original).

I am inclined to describe any moment of genuine connection as one of friendship, no matter how short lived. For example, I spent this morning with my friend’s mother who is here visiting her grandson and we had wonderful conversation and a fantastic morning of what I wouldn’t hesitate to call friendship.

Of course, these interactions become far more valuable when they are repeated often over long periods. The more moments of friendship shared, the more you can appreciate the special traits of the person you’re interacting with. In the most special of cases, I actually think they go beyond the realm of friendship and into that of family. Perhaps those are the relationships that you are referring to.

21 Chickenpig { 06.28.11 at 6:57 pm }

I don’t have one best friend I have three, two women, who happened to be sisters, and one guy, who is also my ex boyfriend. We started being friends when I, J and C were all in 8th grade and S was 11. They made high school enjoyable for me, and gave me something to come home to when I was in College. It doesn’t matter what, or when, or where I know they have my back. We are all scattered , although S is not far from me now that I’ve moved, and we connect on FB every day. Still, I would give my pinkies to be able to be together, just the four of us, for a long weekend, preferably with lots of beer and Beatles on the stereo. I have had many good friends pass through my life, and even some I’ve never met in person, but these three people are family to me.

22 Queenie { 06.28.11 at 6:58 pm }

When I read the poem, I thought you were leaving us, and I read the rest of the post in great fear. Don’t leave us! THAT would have made me cry.

I have only had 3 friendships like this, two of them at different points in college, when I had a wide circle of good friends, and one in recent years. Justine, I’ve spent many, many years without any female friends remotely approaching best friend status. I think friendships–particularly “best” friends–are harder when you are older. For years I spent so much time on my career that anything I had left over was reserved for my husband, and consequently I went a long time without really close female friends. Something had to give, and that’s what it was for me. But, I’m really independent, and in some ways self-sustaining–I need a fair bit of alone time to rejuvenate. Some people need to have a crowd around; I need quiet space. At the end of my last career, before I switched to my new job, all of my close girlfriends were other professionals I worked with, which I also think is kind of weird and unhealthy (although, they really, really get where you’re coming from). But that’s not what I meant to say. . .

I was going to tell the story of my most recent best friend. We were really, really close until about two years ago. Now, not so much. We don’t work together any more, and don’t have the bond forged in common work stress. But more than that, she turned 40 and got divorced and is in the throes of a massive midlife crisis about being undesirable and alone and got botox and has 500 “friends” on FB and dates 25 year olds and drinks too much and hates her high paying job, and I. . .am happy. I got pregnant, I got a new career, I moved away to Europe. And that’s created a gulf that I don’t know that I even want to cross. I miss the confident, funny, thoughtful, genuine, self-satisfied person she used to be shortly after her divorce, but I don’t think she has any interest in being that person any more–just young and hot (although she’s not really either).

23 Kelly { 06.28.11 at 9:39 pm }

My best female friend is Kristin, and I fell hard and fast. We work together and bonded quickly in the stressful, fast paced, crazy environment of our company. Within weeks, we were talking on the phone every day, and soon began shopping together, working out together, and running the details of our lives by each other. We are those girls laughing loudly in the restaurant, our boys are friends because not being so isn’t really an option, and we both feel almost at home in each other’s houses as our own.

She’s ballsy and tells me that she’s never getting old-and has the botox bill to prove it. In describing her personality I would say that the benefits are someone that’s there through everything and doesn’t judge, she’s diplomatic and knows everyone, and loves her dogs as much as I love mine. On the danger side, she can sometimes start a riot with just a glance, gets a little too much validation from guys, and can sometimes put career advancement above everything-and everyone else.

We both come from similar backgrounds-working class families that valued education, pulled ourselves up through hard work, unsuccessful romantic relationships in our early years, mainly because of our own doing. A level deeper, those same similarities yielded a lot of the same insecurities-am I smart enough to be here? What if I end up alone? I’ll never be good enough type things that fuels you yet burns you from time to time. I think this is why I can tell her anything, and likewise her; we immediately know what one another is meaning, the significant and intensity of our words, and where things hurt, and where they inspire.

Despite these similarities, we have stark differences. One of us is a liberal to the core, the other is as republican as you can get. She married, although not certain it was right (and still doesn’t know if she really wants to be married), it took me ten years to get engaged (no wedding plans yet, thank you!). You usually will get two completely different opinion if you ask us our opinion on an approach to a process analysis for work, or what we thought of candidates we’ve interviewed. Yet somehow it just works: we continue to be thick as thieves, and actually I would say that people are envious of our close bond.

24 Jennifer { 06.28.11 at 9:46 pm }

Oh gosh. I cannot imagine life without my best friend. We’ve been friends for almost half our lives at this point, and we’re only in our early-mid twenties. We’ve been through thick and thin, through every step of my IF journey so far, international moves, etc. and even though there have been times when we didn’t talk, we always knew that we’d end up back being friends.

25 Rachel { 06.28.11 at 9:48 pm }

I have a dear friend, J., who has been my friend for over 25 years. She was the girl who sat next to me in 2nd grade and got me into trouble for laughing everyday…I remember wanting to BE her. By 5th grade, we “broke” up, and it was so painful. I never thought I’d have a friend again. In high school we were close again, and lived together in college. Since then, we can go months without talking but are always close. She got married in October, and I hadn’t spoken to her since then until this week, when she called to tell me about her two miscarriages. We’ve seen each other through deaths, marriage, high school, and now, with infertility, I can say that this tie is a miracle. (A grisly one at that). She knows me better than anyone, and it’s comforting to know that she will always be there.

PS. YAY! A sequel!

26 Barb { 06.28.11 at 10:10 pm }

I have had 3 best friends. The first one I went to kindergarten with. We lived in the same tiny town. We shared absolutely everything and had regular slumber parties and mall trips. We dabbled in Ouija and Tarot and thought we could read each other’s minds in the dark if we just concentrated. We played with each other’s hair and didn’t care if one brushed her teeth while the other was showering. She became mentally ill near the end of high school, then chose to go to the same college I did though she did not want to out of fear. I worried that rooming together would hurt our relationship as it was stressful while she dealt with her stuff, but couldn’t get out of it the second year. She became jealous, controlling, hateful, needy, sometimes physically violent. Our friendship suffered. We weren’t even on talking terms after college much until I moved to Florida, and she felt healthy enough to try to patch things a little. I still don’t trust her enough for a full on friendship, but I would help her if she needed it and talk to her regularly on the phone. She was probably the most complete friend I ever had in every sense until that.

Number 2 was a girl from college who in hindsight, I fell in friend love with for probably all the wrong reasons. I loved who I was when I was with her, and I loved all that she represented aside from her relationships. I was her matron of honor. She was in my wedding. But she was selfish, had an issue with anger, control and competition, and I am very needy in my best friendships, which I don’t think is unrealistic considering what a best friend SHOULD be. I think most people just use the term loosely whereas I use it to mean, “sister of the heart.” She broke my heart, and I cried for weeks over it. She has recently gone to counseling and sought me out as healing as well. We have been talking and again, I am happy to be there for her or chat, but I will never again trust her like that. I see signs that she still does some of the things that I hated.

Number 3 is Jen from Here We Go Again. She put a lot of legwork into worming her way in as by that point (and to some extent even now) I was extremely wary. It’s probably the reason I don’ thave many friends. The open, cheerful girl inside has been beaten up too many times. I give my loyalty and my love fiercely and often take a LOT of shit before I give up on someone. Thus I’m often prickly and standoffish with people and make them work hard to get in. (Complete opposite of how I used to be.) Sometimes I feel like that was the better girl… the more likeable girl and the one I am now doesn’t deserve as much love. But Jen was always there, always dependable, always loving. She lifts me up. She makes me feel like a better human. She lets me know I am very important to her. I feel special and unique. When we’re together, there is complete comfort. There isn’t quite the physical devil may care that I had with friend #1, but that doesn’t matter because the emotional freedom is lovely. We are SO very different in demeanor, in attitude, in life situations, but somehow that doesn’t matter. As she loves to say We are of the race of Joseph. I trust her to be there and not forget me. I know she trusts me to do the same. And I know this is the one that’s the keeper because when I try to talk about it, I often don’t have the words. This only happens when something is extremely important or traumatic in my life.

The end. 🙂

27 Barb { 06.28.11 at 10:11 pm }

I have two other friends who come close, but they aren’t of the race that knows Joseph.

28 mrs spock { 06.28.11 at 10:36 pm }

My childhood best friend is Jen. We met across the backyard fence at age 3. We knew it was kismet because we had the same name. She is one of the last remaining people I know who still call me by that childhood name of Jenny. There is something special about someone who has known you since you were a small child, before you started trying on all the hats you try on as you figure yourself out, pretend to be someone you’re not, and lose a bit of that that carefree and endlessly optimistic self you are as a child. I have 3 sisters, and just like with them, having over 30 years of history means having an endless amount of inside jokes and references that can’t be replaced by a good adult friend. I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to be the last woman standing. I took care of a 97 year old woman once, and she would go through her photo albums showing me her best friends from girlhood “The Dirty Dozen”. It’s one thing to tell an interested listener a great story, and another to share it with a peer who was there. Some things you just have to have been there. Like when Jen and I walked down the middle of the road on the yellow line (The Big Yellow Twinkie) to breakfast early, early on Sunday mornings the summer we were 12.

29 Michaela { 06.29.11 at 8:16 pm }

This post made me cry as I reminisced of friendships past and present.

My best friend I met 17 years ago and we were inseparable. We worked together bartending and if one of us was off and the other would call they would say: “You’re wife is on the phone” or “You’re husband called”. Inseparable.

And then we became separated. She didn’t like the guy I feel in love with and I should have known better. We drifted apart and 5 years later when I broke up with that guy we became inseparable again. It was like a silent “I know” between the two of us.

And now well, she’s married and I’m single but we are still inseparable.

I love her.

30 Port of Indecision { 06.29.11 at 9:47 pm }

I haven’t been a “one and done” best friendship type of person since I was little and there was only one person who I could logically call my best friend. I like that as an adult, my female friendships are more nuanced, every one is a different give and take, and I’d be hard-pressed to name a “best” friend.

One of my best friendship stories is way too long to go into details here, but in a nutshell one of my best friends from college disappeared for a few years after college, into a weird and alien life. It was a painful friendship to lose, and the other friend making up our threesome and I were very hurt by it for a long time. Our friend eventually came back, and I’m still amazed and touched by everyone’s willingness to rally around her and accept her with fully open arms. And in the days when she’d gone radio silent, I could’ve never imagined how happy I’d be today to have her back in my life.

31 Roccie { 06.29.11 at 10:46 pm }

I cant write anything right now. All choked up.

I gotta get on the phone and call a few friends. Damn, it is too late. Guess I will FB some old friends who will never get away.

Man, there is nothing like those friendships.

32 Orodemniades { 06.29.11 at 11:22 pm }

I did not grow up with any close female friends – oh, I wanted the friendship, but was too different (poor, needy, fat,mixed race, blah blah blah) to ever get it. So, my closest high school friends were mostly boys. Ditto for college.

In fact, my closest friend – we don’t speak often, but when we do it’s no hold barred – is a gay man whom I met in college. And my closest female friend someone I hated shortly after college – neither of us would have guessed we’d be close now! During the TWW after our first IVF she told me she’d be happy to be a surrogate for us…yeah.

So, not many female friends, and our friendships aren’t…they’re not like anything you read in a book or see on tv or in the movies.

And I’m grateful for that. (although I wish I knew more about makeup, but I can’t wear it anyway, so…)

33 Battynurse { 07.01.11 at 12:09 pm }

I met my best friend in the 7th grade. Over the years we’ve lost contact a few times and sometimes find it difficult to stay in contact regularly but we’re always able to pick up where we left off. We have very different lives now but we know each other so well and have so much history together. I can’t imagine ever not having her in my life.

34 Esperanza { 07.03.11 at 12:02 am }

Somehow I forgot to comment on this. Luckily Justine put up that post that brought you to me and in turn brought me to you again.

Thanks for that comment by the way. It made me reread that post. I really like that post! (Isn’t it fun when you reread a post and think, man, that was good!)

So, back to me and my best friend. I was basically going to write what Justine did and then reading the comments I realized something – I actually had that friend. I did, we just had a falling out. My best friend and I met in Hong Kong (where I grew up for a while). We were inseparable from 4th to 6th grade when we both moved back to the states (me to Cali, her to Washington state). We kept in contact via snail mail and then, when it became available, email (yep, some day my daughter will know that I was around when email became a thing). We visited each other every year for 10 years (I can’t believe that!) and were very, very close. Then the summer we graduated from college we had a falling out and stopped seeing/contacting each other. I tried to reinitiate contact a few times but it didn’t seem to work. She has no presence on the internet (no Facebook, Twitter, she doesn’t even email frequently) so it’s really hard to get a hold of her. I figured we would never really become friends again.

Just recently I tried to contact her because I wanted her to know about my daughter. We spent a lot of time fantasizing about the absurdly large families we’d have one day, creating names for each of our dozens of kids (I think we just like putting names together, frankly) and giving them personalities and histories. Anyway, having a daughter (who did not get any of the names I originally picked) made me want to reconnect with her and we ended up talking on the phone a few times. It’s definitely NOT like old times and speaking with her is a strange mix of, I know EVERYTHING about your childhood but as an adult you’re a complete stranger to me. Our conversations weave in and out of “remember whens” and “right now I live in Colorado my job entails this”. It’s very strange. I can’t imagine we’ll ever be as close as we were, but she certainly shaped who I am today and if it hadn’t been so long ago I’d still be very sad to have lost that friend.

I have three college girl friends that I was once very close with. My miscarriage created some distance between us but I’m trying to bridge that. We’ll see what happens. I don’t think we’ll ever be as close as we once were but you can’t ignore the 13 years of history between the four of us. We’ve had some really wonderful times.

Thanks for making me think of those women. They have defined my life in many ways and I take that for granted. It’s nice to be reminded.

35 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.03.11 at 12:20 pm }

“Friendships — those are about figuring out who you are. What matters to you. How you see the world.”

I stumbled onto one of my best friends (I have several, despite the solo-superlative) just by reading a book. That led to an online getting-to-know-you and then a face-to-face meeting months later. More than four years on, I feel as if our friendship’s birth and development was kind of like that of Athena — sprouted fully mature from someone”s head.

My friend knows me. Really knows me. Gets me, comforts me, cheers me, pushes me, loves me, adds to me.

I was surprised how quickly something new became something so deep.

36 md { 07.12.11 at 4:10 am }

“tell me who you’re with, and i’ll tell you who you are” -spanish proverb

thank you for this beautiful post 🙂

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