You know — someone who knows all your secrets, keeps all your secrets, and shares all their secrets. Someone who doesn’t care what you look like, how much money you have, or what you snack on before you go to bed. Someone who loves you, funky wardrobe, personal hangups, and all.
I look back on my life, and see a number that fit that description. A neighborhood girlfriend when I was small. A couple of girls in high school. Another who went with me to the dances at the Navy base in my very early 20s. Different jobs, different besties. 3 or 4 when my children were babies; one or two from my various jobs. I have been blessed to have had their friendship. I don’t talk to but a few these days, and even then a year can go by without a face-to-face meeting.
I have been thinking about all of this since my footing in Bestieland right now is not as solid as it used to be. Different callings often mean different directions. And sometimes the parameters of friendship change.
What does “best friend” really mean?
I am inclined to think the terminology and significance of it changes through your life. When I was younger it was important to have a “best” friend. That buddy that was almost attached to you at the hip. What you bought she bought. Where you went she went.
As you get older, your parameters change. You don’t necessarily need to be attached at the hip, but it’s great to have someone to drink wine with or go to hang at the park with you and your kids.
Different jobs through my life have provided different Best Friends. From grade school to high school to my file clerk job in my late teens to downtown Chicago in my late 20s to my besties when my children were babies — all were gifts in my life at a time when I needed them. These people came into my life for a reason. As I did into theirs. And often, when you have learned and grown from having this person in your life, it’s time to move on.
But does someone always have to move on?
I look back to my grade school years. L was my first real best friend — until she wanted to go play with A, who was older. My Great Lakes Navy Base besties married Navy men and shipped off to who-knows-where. C worked downtown with me, but when the company folded, so did we. D and L and J and I were all besties when we were raising babies. Living near each other they hung together, but because I moved to another state, I didn’t.
Was I better off knowing all of them?
Were they all my “best” friends?
As I grow older I understand why being best friends is a two-way street. You need to give and take. To support and clarify. To be willing to correct and be corrected. Best friends hold onto each other because their souls feel good together. And you don’t need to be attached at the hip, either. Just knowing the other person is a phone call away makes life a little easier.
My besties are at the same point in life that I am. Women who have learned and felt the things I have. Women who take me just the way I am yet encourage me to be much more. We laugh and cry and jabber together just like my friends and I did 40 years ago.
Einstein’s time line doesn’t exist for those whose hearts have connected. Whether that connection was years ago or yesterday. Let go of the ones who let go of you, and hold onto the ones who stay.
It’s not the space where best friends used to exist that matters, but the space in which they will always exist that makes you whole.