It took me a little over a year to adjust to my new school, and two full years to accept suburban New Jersey — a cheap knockoff of NYC, the greatest city in the world, where I’d grown up until then — as my home. I’ve always said that life is about the people in it, and the summer of 2001, Theresa made me not totally hate, and maybe even like my new life.
After a long day of choreographing dances in the back of the alley rather than participating in cosmic bowling at camp, we were walking home discussing how people who don’t believe in aliens are stupid. It was one of those perfectly goofy days that children have, during which we completely ignored everyone else, because we were too busy giggling and basking in our weirdness – a weirdness unmatched by anyone else. It was then she told me for the first time that I was her best friend.
I know that was weirdly dramatic, and sounded like the setup for a lesbian twist, but there isn’t one. I just feel that admitting best friendship, real best friendship that’s defined solely by a feeling, and not at all by the amount of time you’ve known each other, or by how much you have in common, is exactly like telling someone you love them for the first time…except that it doesn’t end in intercourse. You don’t want to say it too soon, because you’ll scare them off, and there’s a very serious fear that your feeling is unrequited. You don’t want to tell a person that they hold THE most important position in your life if you’re only like their fifth best friend. Anywho, that was the day that Theresa became my best friend, and I was officially able to move on from my old life, and live my new one. I had a partner in crime, a wingwoman, a sidekick (or maybe I was the sidekick) – a person. I had someone to gossip with, to call at 2 in the morning crying or at 2 in the afternoon for no reason at all. I had someone I could tell anything to.
We continued for years and years to do everything together. We joined the same dance team and drove together to competitions. We loitered, every Friday, at the mall and the boardwalk in the summer. We bought our first thongs together. We confided in each other when we realized we were supposed to shave…everything. I was the first person she called when she got her first period, and we had a four-hour talk to discuss my first kiss – how did it happen? what was it like? what were you wearing? and side-bar, we saw Lindsay at the movies, and she was wearing SPARKLE EYE SHADOW. GROSS. We got drunk together for the first time, and experienced our first shame-overs together after our first, and only, sweaty teen night at da club. She sat at the head table at my sweet sixteen, and came on vacation with my family every year. She had auto-shot in my car for seven whole months before she got her license (total fetus move). We planned every detail of our proms together, and found ourselves the only two who were miserable that our extended group of friends elected to take a party bus instead of limos.
We went on to college together, and recapped our first days in detail. We were sure to make our own friends, but ended up living together anyway. We picked each other up for four years so no one had to walk of shame, which worked until we shacked with roommates – at which time, we walked home together, heels in hands, laughing and waving at the judgmental eyes of passersby, honking cars, and a congregation getting out of mass. We sat together at graduation, and laughed, and cried, and drank our way into the “real world.” We moved to different cities, but when we talk, it’s like no time has passed at all. It’s like I’m home. She’s been my best friend forever – and that means more than sharing each other’s clothes without asking, telling each other when we look like shit, and being sure to like each other’s statuses on Facebook. She’s been a part of every big moment in my life since I was 11 years old. We grew up together. We tell each other everything. We taught each other how to think. She’s a part of me.
Yesterday, she called to tell me that her boyfriend proposed, on Christmas Eve (her favorite night of the year), in front of her family, and she was engaged. It was perfect for her. If I were to plan out her engagement myself, it would have been just that. I’d thought about this moment a million times before. I’d fantasized about her wedding almost as many times as my own, and I screamed in elation at the news. My best friend on planet Earth is getting MARRIED! It’s amazing! And I’m happy for her. I’m SO happy for her. But when we hung up, after gushing over pictures of her ring, and pressing her for details about the proposal (and the wedding which she’s planned her whole life, but not really at all), I cried. I couldn’t control myself. They weren’t tears of bitter jealousy, but they weren’t tears of happiness either.
She’s my BEST friend – one of the only people for whom I always knew I wouldn’t feel a drop of resentment at the announcement of her impending nuptials – so WHY did I feel so…sad? After sitting by her side, bashing all the guys who hurt her, and conspiring about how to manipulate the new ones into loving us, the only thing I should feel is happiness that she found a guy who loves her – really loves her – so much that he wants to spend his entire life with her. And I am happy for her. I’m really, really happy for her. I thought, at first, that maybe I felt sad for me. But this isn’t a bitter, single girl story. I felt sad, in some way, for our friendship, and that this meant that things would permanently be different.
We’d done everything together our whole lives – every big moment, we did it together (or at the very least, discussed in excruciating detail every moment before and after, so that it felt like we were doing it together). I was her person. And now she has a new person. She’s entering this incredible, amazing new phase of her life (one that I whole-heartedly want her to be in), but she’s not taking me with her.
She’s not the girl I’m calling to discuss our friend’s engagement ring – it’s HER engagement ring. She’s not #foreveralone with me, hungover on our living room floor – moving in together and buying some cats is out of the question. She’s not the girl at the mall with me, loitering, or looking for a bag for prom. She’s not the girl whose car I’ll have shotgun in for life. She’s not the girl telling me about her crazy night…or my crazy night. She’s not the girl analyzing text messages from boys with me. She’s not the girl getting wine drunk on my couch, and telling everyone “this is normal” when I inevitably puke or cry. She’s not the girl taking a walk of shame with me in the morning. She’s not the girl calling me first to talk about every mundane detail of her life. She’s not the girl giving me knowing looks, because we prefer to communicate through telepathy. She’s not the girl staying up all night, having sleepovers with ME. And she’s not the girl choreographing dances with me in the back of the bowling alley, then having long discussions about aliens.
She’s somebody’s fiancée, soon-to-be wife. She’s somebody’s person. And that’s really, really weird. I’m scared, I guess. What says “You’re a grownup” more than the person who was always there to tell you “No, you’re not” getting married?
And then I thought about Gerrid, her fiancée. The guy who is somehow able to deal with the fact that she NEVER answers her phone, and doesn’t get mad at her for it. The guy who knows when she has her blackout face on, because he’s down to party every time she is. The guy who bonded with her shy, quiet father YEARS faster than I could. The guy who knew that a Christmas Eve proposal in front of her entire family was the absolute perfect way to ask to spend his life with our little cheeseball family gal. The guy who looks at her the way that I can only hope somebody looks at me some day. The guy who knows that sometimes, he’s got to disappear, so we have “our time,” and somehow…it’s okay. Somehow, I’m willing to share her. Not that the best friend has some “giving her away” ceremony (though she totally should), but I’m willing to strike a deal: I get her on birthdays (okay, on my birthday), she’s mine for bachelorette parties, and you forfeit her to yours truly for Sunday brunch. Your children WILL call me “Aunt,” I get to be in the wedding, and most importantly, you never forget how amazing she is. Keep loving her more and more every day. She’s my best friend – she has been forever, but I guess, because you asked so nicely, she can be yours too.