The Mystery of Friendship

Today’s Daily Post prompt is to complete the sentence: “My closest friend is…”

Surprisingly (or maybe not surprising at all, depending on how well you know me), I can’t complete the sentence. I don’t think that I have a “closest friend.” It’s just too hard to choose.

When I was a little girl, my closest friend was a straight tie between my mother and my cat, Amos. In Mum’s defense, that cat was amazing, and quite devoted. Mum was with me almost every minute of the day, but when she had to be away, Amos took over and watched my every move. I miss that old lady (yes, Amos was a “she”). Mum doesn’t understand me very much, but she loves me with everything she has, and that’s pretty damn awesome. I love spending time with her, and we can talk for hours and hours about nothing, making each other laugh until we cry, then not remembering a thing we just talked about. It never gets boring hanging out with her, because we’re both so easily sidetracked 🙂

But other than my mother, there have been a number of people that I have held dear over the years. My first best friend was Candace Rose. She was in my class at school, and she really got me. She kept me safe from bullies, and it was a tragedy when her parents moved her to a different school. I made her a best friends’ heart out of paper, strung on a piece of string. I still have my half somewhere, and we still keep in touch on Facebook, though our lives have led us in very different directions.

My next best friend was probably technically there first. Kim and I hung out together before we were born. Our mothers are friends, and we grew up playing at each others’ houses. My very first sleepover was with Kim, and we hung out all the time. The thing is, though, I always felt like I had to call her my best friend, when in reality we’re probably more like sisters – horribly competitive, a little begrudging, sometimes mistrustful, loving to a fault, but together because we were made to be together, not because we chose each other. We’re still close, in that weird, required way. Don’t get me wrong, I love her and would never want to give her up, but she’s not my closest friend anymore. It doesn’t help that she had her first child in high school, and our paths, like mine and Candace’s, diverged wildly over the years. I have this odd feeling that one day when we’re old we’ll end up being great friends.

My third best friend from my school days is Amy. She’s also my distant cousin, and though we met for the first time when we were around 10 or so, we didn’t become tight until high school. Once we did become friends, though, we were bonded for life. I love her deeply, and we have always called each other cousin-sister-friends. We don’t talk as much as we used to, or as much as we should, but we’re always touching, psychically. Even though I’ve said all of this, though, she’s not my closest friend. She’s like my twin or something. It’s weird, and deeply good.

In college, I was paired up randomly with my roommate in the freshman dorm. Trinity and I exchanged one letter the summer before school, and only formally met on the first day of school when we moved into the dorm. Even so, everything in the room matched – same color scheme for our bedding, same lava lamp (red lava in yellow water, mine with a silver base, hers with a gold), books and music that complemented each others. She came with her teddy bear, I came with my rabbit. I fell in love with her exotic look at first glance, when I spotted her on the quad before finding out that she was my roommate. We were so good as roommates (though not friends) our freshman year that we decided to save money and live in the same room off campus the next year. After that we shared an apartment with another roommate, Katie. Katie and I shared a love of the color red, and while Trin is great at showering you with love and making you feel like part of the party, Katie is the best listener I know. She understands and feels deeply about whatever you’re talking about. Between the two of them, I felt protected, understood, and freed in a way I’d never felt before. Suddenly it was OK to be odd or different – they loved me for it. It was because of them that I grew brave and strong, and learned to wear my skin proudly. Trin & Katie became – and still are – my two best friends in the world. We lived together until they graduated in 2004, and then after moving away from NOLA, Trin and I lived together again in 2006 through 2008 when she came back to town. I’ve visited Trin in her hometown and at her new adopted home. I’m her son’s aunt. I was the first friend to visit Katie when she moved to Europe, and will be her daughter’s aunt pretty soon. But I couldn’t pick one friend over the other.

And there’s more. When I lived in Chicago, I met another friend, Jess, who quickly became one of my favorite people on the planet. We just get each other. When I think about friendship, and when I’m here in NOLA, wallowing because none of my most favorite people are here, I often dwell on the fact that I miss Jess. She pops to the top of my mind even before Trin and Katie do, sometimes. Maybe because while Katie and Trin complete a part of a special unit that is the three of us, Jess and I share a lot of the same likes and dislikes, misgivings, and humor triggers. She never fails to make me laugh, or make a party “THE party” for me. She’s definitely a top contender for most loved. But she’s not my closest friend, either.

It’s impossible for me to choose. I don’t know how you’re supposed to. Each of them is so different, has different awe-inspiring strengths, and beautiful flaws. I love them each with all that I have to give them, and I hope that they love me, too. But that’s not the point. Being loved is not winning. Knowing love is. I’m a very lucky girl.

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