“The purpose of a relationship is to decide what part of yourself you’d like to see “show up,” not what part of another you can capture and hold.” –Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch
She won’t even know what she did until she reads this, but my best friend made all the difference in my weekend. She didn’t even really know how down I was feeling and she inadvertently picked me up with a simple sentence. So simple, in fact, that even as she reads this she won’t know what exactly it was that she said to make me feel better. That’s the power a best friend has – he or she is someone you are so comfortable with and who’s opinion you value so much that even the slightest interaction with them can lighten your mood and make the world around you seem brighter. I have a few friends that I am certain will be “forever friends”, in that no matter how far apart life takes us, the sense of closeness I feel towards them will never diminish. A forever friend takes on many roles in your life, from support system to stand-up comedian to cheerleader to reality checker. The most important role, however, is that a forever friend shapes who you are.
I always enjoy reading blogs and articles that are set up as lists because they accommodate my short attention span, so here are ten defining characteristics of a forever friend, exemplified by the lovely lady pictured above:
1. We try new things together. Some of those things (like McCormicks Vodka)
suck really really suck. Together, we experience them, learn that they suck, and they become part of our past. Some of these things (like spending time with our friends at the lake) are wonderful. Together, we experience them, learn that we enjoy them, and work to keep these experiences as part of our present and future.
2. We go on adventures: Big ones that take us thousands of miles from our home to places like California and Nicaragua, and little ones around Atlanta that start with drinking beer at noon and end God-knows-where. No matter what we’re doing, we have fun, and we always look good doing it (see photographic evidence from my family trip to San Francisco below):
3. Her family is my family and my family is her family. We have both experienced each other’s family vacations. I couldn’t replace the closeness I feel to her mom, grandma, and sister. While I think my dad’s jokes are lame, she thinks they are funny. One of my favorite examples of my relationship with her family is from my birthday last year. Her dad is from Mexico and was having a World Cup viewing party for the Mexico game the day of my birthday. Somehow, this party evolved into a birthday party for me, where I got to celebrate with both of our families and experience Mexican traditions such as having my face smashed into my birthday cake (thankfully I got my revenge)…
4. I respect her more than just about anyone and I strive to be more like her. I have never witnessed anyone act as selflessly as her. I’m not using that statement as hyperbole to make a point, I mean I have literally never seen anyone I know act as selflessly on a regular basis as she does. A small example: she didn’t have a car for months because her uncle needed hers, and I didn’t hear her complain once. She was perfectly fine giving up the freedom her car provided her because it made her family better off. When I start to feel like I am being a less than ideal daughter, I think to myself, “WWCD?” and try to act accordingly.
5. I never feel jealous of her. How many times have you heard “If I have to see one more set of engagement photos on my news-feed, I swear I’m deleting Facebook”? It’s hard to avoid those feelings when you are bombarded with other people’s extravagant flowers from their boyfriends on a regular basis (“Omg, isn’t he the BEST? Feeling #blessed to have the most adoring boyfriend in the world”), when maybe you just got in a dumb argument with your own significant other. With her, it’s completely different. If she was President of the United States and married to Brad Pitt and I only had cats for friends, I wouldn’t be jealous in the slightest. I would believe with every ounce of my being that she deserved her happiness, and that would be all that mattered.
6. She gives me purpose. I’m excited when I experience struggles that she can learn from. I went through a major breakup a month before she did and I got to share all of my tips for staying sane during those first few months. Much of this advice consisted of “Here are the things I did that made my life worse – don’t follow suit” tips. It made me feel like my suffering had a purpose and I found peace with the situation by sharing my quasi-wisdom with her.
7. We understand each other’s darkest moments. She knows when I’m going through hard times and she loves me anyways, and vice-versa. I’ve never struggled with something and not shared it with her.
8. We have the same taste in people. She has introduced me to so many people that I love and respect and one of my best friends is someone I met through her. I know I can introduce her to any of my friends and they will get along great.
9. We are equally weird and not embarrassed about it in the slightest. There are not many people I can sprint down Peachtree Street in the rain with (while wearing a dress and carrying a bouquet of roses) because we are late to our friend’s play and not feel an ounce of embarrassment in regards to what the people in the cars passing by are thinking.
10. We grow together. This one is my favorite.
It has always weirded me out that one day, most or all of my close friends will get married. And when that happens, I won’t see them as much. At some point, if I can ever get my emotions under control, I will get married too. We will have kids and careers that will take over our lives. Our paths will diverge. Hopefully, I will stay in touch with the important ones. Hopefully, instead of pointing out my old friends in my high school yearbook and saying, “That’s Alisa, she was one of my closest friends and now she and her brother run a nationally acclaimed brewery together” to my children, I will be able to say, “Oh there’s a picture of your Auntie Alisa, the one who’s brother makes the beer Mommy likes so much. Remember how much fun you had playing with her kids?”. That’s the dream, but I know that isn’t what will happen with all of my friends. With that in mind, it feels a bit uncomfortable to me to invest so many emotions and so much time in friends that will eventually fade from my life. Having this thought in the back of my mind adds a heightened level of stress when I am in a serious relationship: How much time am I supposed to devote to my boyfriend? How much time am I supposed to devote to my friends? How much time am I supposed to devote to myself?
That’s where the quote I kicked off this post with comes in. The point of becoming close with friends isn’t to keep them in your lives forever. The point of becoming close with the people around you is that you shape each other. You share experiences and memories and catapult each other towards the future in the best possible way. Claudia has been a huge part of me becoming me. She has set the bar high for my relationship with my future husband and helped me figure out what parts of me I want to “show up” in my relationship now. I’ll never be able to thank her enough, but hopefully this post has given her a good idea of what she means to me.
Who are your forever friends? How have they shaped you?
This Week’s Highs
1. Another weekend at Benj’s lakehouse with some long-time friends
This Week’s Lows
1. Moving: it’s still hanging over my head and I’m still freaking out about it.
2. Becoming ridiculously repetitive about how freaked out I am about moving