I believe in having a best friend. Even since I can remember, I’ve called someone “my best friend.” It’s almost like a badge of honor to me, having someone I elevate to that highest level of friendship. I take comfort from thinking there is a person with whom I want to commiserate or rejoice. I’ve never been good at having a lot of casual friends, perhaps because I’m too insecure and socially maladroit for the repartee necessary in large settings. Or perhaps I invest too much in friendships to have enough time and energy for lots of people.
Whatever the case, I like to consider someone my best friend. I need someone around whom I am myself, however kooky or outrageous. Someone I always want to talk to, whose opinion and approbation matters. 9 years ago, I lost my best friend. He didn’t die, but our friendship did. We met when I was 6 years old. We were pretty much friends all through high school, but it was in college that he was really there for me. He helped me through family deaths and love obsessions. We would talk for hours about our problems, our families — pretty much anything.
Scrabble, walks, and talks constituted our mutual therapy. He didn’t judge me. I relied so much on him, on his ability to make me laugh and cry and push my buttons. I thought he felt the same way. I was wrong. He met a girl, and I judged her — and he chose a relationship with her over a friendship with me.
I’ve thought about our lost friendship almost everyday since — trying to understand the choices that people make, wondering why I judged her when all I wanted was for him to be happy, wishing that he had had enough room in his heart for both a “love-ship” and a friendship. But he clearly wanted and needed something more than I had to offer, and it made me reconsider my belief in my ability to have a best friend. Whether I was the right kind of person to be friends with.
Yes, losing old friends and making new ones is part of life. But losing friends makes you cautious. Almost more so than in romantic relationships, because those kinds of failures you can chalk up to love, to your heart. Friendships are more a meeting of the minds, which can then move into your heart.
But I am lucky, because my husband is my best friend. Maybe he always was. No, I haven’t known him since I was 6. But he was there, waiting for me to realize that it is possible to be lucky enough to love someone with your mind and your heart — to be in love with someone who might just also be your best friend.
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