two women walking together outdoor during daytime

Why Bother With a Best Friend?

Unlike others, I did not have a best friend while growing up. One of my brothers, eighteen months older than me, was the one with whom I had the most fun; rough housing in the living room, racing our bicycles, playing catch and kickball. But I didn’t count him as my best friend. He was just my brother. 

Also, while growing up, I had a cousin who lived in the neighborhood. I’d often go down to her house to play with dolls, but only because that was what she wanted to play with. I knew enough about her that if we did not do what she wanted, then I might as well go home. She did not count as a best friend either. 

In junior high I had one friend. Her dad managed one of the cinemas in town so we’d go to the movies often because we could get in for free. But yy the time we went to high school we no longer counted each other as friends. She was accepted into the popular circle while I was not. 

In high school I had two short lived friendships. One was with someone who was extremely religious and the other one was with someone who liked to do whatever was illegal. Both of those relationships seemed doomed from the start. Was I destined to go through life without having a friend I could call my best friend?  

What Makes a Friend a “Best” Friend?

By the time I married, I no longer wondered if I’d ever have a best friend. I simply quit thinking about it. I’d gotten used to my independence, my individuality, and my solitude. Then one day, I was surprised.

 It was a warm Sunday morning when my husband and I, new to the community, drove to a nearby church to visit it for the first time. Getting out of the car we stood in the grassy parking lot and shook hands with another couple who came over to greet us. 

The man, short and stocky, introduced himself as Guy and his wife as Debbie. Her pregnant belly was a contrast to her skinny limbs. Her hair, curly and blond was shoulder length and her eyes were clover-leaf green. She was pretty and when she said, “Hello,” her voice was soft. But it was her smile that told me the most about her. I somehow knew we’d become very good friends. And I was right.

Like any new relationship, we started out cautiously. Neither of us spilled our guts all at once, but over coffee, bites of blueberry pie and strolls along pine scented paths. As we told each other our stories of loss and trauma, we built a bridge of trust between us. 

I like Debbie because she is intuitive, but not bossy, smart, but not haughty. We are alike in that we both value honesty and deep conversations. We are different because she is a dog owner and I am not. We both like walking along ocean beaches, but I walk faster than she does because she bends over every few feet to inspect a snail, rock or any other treasure that catches her artistic eye. 

We’ve held each other up in the worst of times; her sister’s funeral and the funeral of one of my baby’s. We’ve held each other up in the best of times; kayaking on the lake without a care in the world. 

We helped each other raise our sons. I toughened up her one and only, while she doted over the three of mine. She knows she can text me early in the morning and I know I can call her whenever I have a philosophical question. She does not insist that I think a certain way. Rather, she knows how I think and can tell me kindly and honestly what she thinks too. 

Why bother having a best friend? Friends come and go, but it is the best friend who stays with you every step of the way.

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