My best friend moved to my school in 6th grade. I remember going to back-to-school night with my parents and seeing her name on one of the desks in homeroom. For some reason her name just stuck out to me and it bothered me that I didn’t know a girl with that name.
Fast forward to the first day of school. She introduced herself during morning announcements (like they made all the new kids do) saying she moved here from Ohio. During lunch I was sitting with my friends and she was sitting on the same table as us, only way far down, reading a book while eating. One of my friends was kind of laughing at her for being a bookworm (it was seriously a huge book) and I told that friend to shut up and be nice. During art time I felt a prompting to go and tell her she could sit with us during lunch from now on. My heart started racing. For some reason I was just drawn to this girl. I got up to get a drink from the drinking fountain in our class and on the way back to my seat I stopped by her desk and invited her to sit with me at lunch from now on. She accepted.
From that point on, we have been friends. I don’t remember the next day of school (other than it was my first day in 6 weeks without a cast on my arm), or the next day, or most of 6th grade in general. She ingratiated herself into my group of friends effortlessly. It helped that we were the nerdy out-casts who no one wanted to be friends with. She is and was weird and so she and I got along perfectly. I could be completely silly with her, and from the very beginning, we just accepted each other for who we were.
I remember the first time I was surprised by her. Her parents threw a Halloween party at their house that first year. I grew up in an affluent neighborhood with a lot of children of very wealthy parents. And those kids knew it. The “rich kids” literally looked down on us middle class kids with disdain. I mean, what 1st grader wears designer labels to school? Well these kids did. You always knew who was rich and who was not. I associated rich with stuck-up and snotty. By the way my best friend acted and dressed I figured she was just a normal middle class kid like myself. So when I went to her house and discovered it was a 6,000+ square foot bohemith, I was kind of shocked. I was shocked that she wore normal clothes and wasn’t a totally mean jerky girl.
My best friend and I went to 6th and 7th grade in the same schools until her parents decided the Utah public education system left a lot to be desired and forced her to go to a private school. You’d think that because she was in a private school that was an hour away every day that our friendship would dwindle. In fact, it grew. Because we didn’t get to see each other every day, we had to make the moments we did see each other count. If I ever had a school vacation and she didn’t, I would go to school with her. It was fun seeing what it was like to go to a class with only 6 kids in it instead of 30. It’s true I’ve blocked most of junior high out of my head for self-preservation, but I do remember at some point her parents building a pool in their backyard and having a pool party at the end of 9th grade.
High school was pretty much the same. Except during our junior year her father’s company was bought out and he was forced to resign as CEO. He found a new CEO position in Southern California right before our senior year. My best friend didn’t want to have to change schools during her senior year and affect her college applications, so she stayed behind while her family moved and lived with a host family. Only problem was, her host family lived an hour away. We started this thing called “the notebook.” We got a thick notebook and each week one of us would have it. We’d write down all the things we wanted to tell each other during the week, and pass it back during the weekend. This was before cell phones, texting, and even email (oh wow, I’m dating myself). And I’m pretty sure that my parents didn’t want to pay for the long distance phone calls if we called each other every night.
Then we graduated from high school and that’s the last time we ever lived in the same state together. That was 1996. I went with her to Southern California when she moved back into her family’s home for the summer before college. We had so much fun that week and a half I was there. We went to the beach, swam in her parent’s pool, Universal studios, and basically, like always, laughed our heads off together. I remember getting on the plane and crying knowing that would be the last time I would see her for quite a while.
My best friend went to a private all women’s college in Massachusetts. I stayed behind to go to the state college in my hometown. Luckily email was common by then and so we maintained our friendship through free email instead of costly phone calls. During college, she made a stop in Utah on the way to her parent’s house in Cali for Christmas. I spent my Spring Break my 3rd year in college at her college in Massachusetts.
In 1999 the hubs and I got married and she was one of my maids of honor. I had two maids of honor because there was no way I could decide between my sister and my best friend. So I said one of my maids of honor was my sister who is like a best friend, and the other was my best friend who is like a sister. But I digress, my best friend quit a summer internship in New York early so she could come and spend an entire month with me before I got married. Now that’s love. She had to deal with my bitchy roommates, helping me move into our married apartment, and compete for my attention (which she never had to do before) with the hubs.
In 2000 she graduated from college and set off to live in New York City. When 9/11 happened I was scared out of my mind not knowing NYC geography and where her office building was in relation to the twin towers. Her mom called me some time that afternoon to tell me she was okay and I just broke down into tears. I had just had a baby and she was her godmother. How could I ever live in a world that would take away my best friend?
I flew to New York for the first time in 2003, the same week we dropped the bombs in Iraq. It was only a year and a half after 9/11 and with the new war, my mom was more than a little freaked out at my flying to NYC. But let me tell you, it was so much fun! It was like we were girls again. I made her go out and do all the touristy things she would never do on her own.
We take turns visiting each other, knowing that we’ll probably always live on opposite coasts. She has come out here a couple of times at Christmas either on the way to or back from visiting her parents. I think the first time she saw my children she was in awe that I was actually married, a mother, and had produced these little beings.
The last time I went to NYC was in March of 2007. I got to meet so many of the friends she had established over the last few years living in New York. She’s very active in her church and all her friends I met were so cool. Of course they would have to be to be friends with my best friend. It snowed for most of the week and we just had fun hanging out in her condo watching Sex & the City reruns.
A few months after that visit, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was there with me every step of the way through email and encouraging me to join Facebook (which was so new at the time the only friends I had were hers). She had planned to come out and stay with me during November of that year but then altered her plans to have more time with me. Then my Mom died. She came out and spent a few days with me and was just with me while I grieved. She loved my Mom like a second mom so it was hard on her too. She left a new budding romance to fly 3,000 miles just to sit with me while I cried.
Now it’s my turn to visit her. I am so excited! Not only to I get to spend a week in New York, by myself with no kids, but I get to spend a week with her! Every time we’re together it seems like no time has passed since we last saw each other. We’re back in step teasing each other and telling our same stupid jokes.
There’s no logical reason that my best friend and I should be best friends. The only thing we really have in common is that we love each other. I’m married and have children. She’s single and offspring free. We have different temperament and completely different ways of approaching the world. We’re different religions. We don’t like the same food, music, or books. We do share an affinity for Project Runway, Sex & the City, My So-Called Life, and Daria. And we’re both liberals, which I would say is significantly harder to be for me than for her.
The point is, we’re best friends. Time, distance, age, and life circumstances have not changed that at all. I love my best friend. She is my family. She has accepted me for who I am no matter my mistakes for the last 20 years. She’s never judged me, even when I was obviously in the wrong. Sure, we’ve had our little tiffs, but at the end of the day we’re friends. She’s so funny and we can usually laugh until our stomachs are sore. She’s incredibly smart and constantly makes me think. She has never let anything go to her head. She is the kind of person who just accepts people for who they are, while still being able to weed out the assholes. She’s amazing. I’m lucky to call her a friend.
Viva la best friends!