I’ve never been the girl who has had a tribe, but don’t get me wrong—I’m not a loner. I love talking and can have a conversation with anyone at any time. Social situations are enjoyable, and I think I’m fairly lovable. Sometimes I think my number 2 personality (and therefore giving nature) makes me a prime candidate for friendship. I have many friends who I love and enjoy being with.
But for whatever reason, I don’t have that one person who fits the typical “best friend” mold. Maybe it’s because I hold the title of “best friend” as a sacred honor and will only award it to the most deserving candidate (when I told my husband I don’t have a best friend he replied “wow thanks.” He truly is my number 1, but only for today I’m excluding him from the equation). Maybe it’s because I am very careful about who I share my most intimate thoughts and fears with. Maybe it’s because my views of true friendship are old school and old-fashioned.
Or, perhaps it’s because I choose not to rank my friends. If I have a relationship with someone, I value that person and what they pour into my life. It doesn’t matter if I see them once a month or daily. I love and appreciate all my friends.
I do have friends who have shone brighter than others during different periods of my life, and of those friends there are a few who rise above the rest. The cream of the crop. The ones I could call “the best of my friends.” For literary sake, I’ll drop the drama and just go with “best friends.”
Best friends aren’t affected by time or distance. Best friends can pick up on a conversation from a week ago and carry on like they haven’t missed a beat. Best friends aren’t the ones who need constant attention and affirmation. Best friends are the ones who recognize a need long before it is verbalized. Best friends don’t sull up because you forgot to text back. Best friends don’t hold on to offense. Best friends don’t have requirements. They can sit in silence and know when to do so. Best friends aren’t afraid of tough conversations, and they know after the conversation is over they can each carry on the same but a little better than before. Best friends don’t need an invitation or an explanation. They love, and then they love some more.
My Best Childhood Friend
The first of my best friendships goes back more years than I care to count. I still know her full name, childhood address and phone number. My kids know her from listening to my stories, and I still hug her mama every time I see her.
I don’t remember when our friendship started. I just remember her being there. She was always there. She was a constant friend to me as we grew up, and to a little girl who had little confidence, she was a life saver. I knew if I needed someone she would be there.
We fussed a few times, and we each had other friends. But we always had each other. Together, we survived braces, bangs and boys, and I think our young friendship was what taught me the value of having that one person you could always count on.
We grew up, and I moved north while she moved south, but I still have a deep love and appreciation for her and the role she played in my life for years. I can’t tell you what vehicle she drives today, but I can recount endless stories of church camps, cheer camps and late night phone calls until Marsha or Diane would holler “GET OFF THE PHONE!” from down the hall. I will always consider her one of my bests, and I’m thankful for the friendship we had as children.
The Stereotypical “Mom” Friend
When I was in high school I developed a deep friendship with my mama. There. I said it. My mama is one of my best friends. Years ago I thought all women were best friends with their moms, but I have learned I am one of few who have an actual friendship with their mother. Our friendship blossomed on our weekend trips to Hattiesburg. Mama would take my sister and me (and occasionally our baby brother) to Turtlecreek Mall almost every weekend. We wouldn’t always shop, but we would eat and spend time together.
The car rides were the most fun. We weren’t consumed with texting or social media. It was just us and the radio. We laughed and talked and sometimes cried and always ended the trip with a milkshake or some other snack. To a teenager, it was pretty close to perfection. I learned then that my absolute best interest was her main focus, and her love for me always anchored our relationship. She loved me, and I trusted her love. We had a few testy moments while I was growing up, but they were never terrible and never lasted very long.
She has so many qualities that made it easy to hold her close to my heart as I grew up, married and started a family of my own. She is fearless, confident and has a servant’s heart. She’s one of the funniest females I know, and she makes everyone feel welcomed when they are with her. We talk multiple times a day, and while that may not be the norm, I’m thankful that it is the norm for us.
My Built-In Friend
I jokingly refer to my sister as my built-in friend. She’s always been there. Ever since I was 3. The truth is, we weren’t friends when we were younger. Sometimes, we don’t even like each other now. When we were kids she liked ball and outside, and I liked pretty things and not sweating. We were decent enough friends, and we became closer in high school/college. We borrowed each other’s clothes and even slept in the same bed until I got married and moved out.
Our friendship deepened when we married and years later, by complete surprise, realized we were both (and my sister-in-law) expecting. That was such a fun time, and having her experience pregnancy, birth and mothering right along with me grew our friendship by leaps and bounds. There are days when we disagree. We look almost identical on the outside but are quite different on the inside, and to complicate things even more, aging equals changing. Now she likes pretty things, and I’m too tired to care (insert crying, laughing emoji). She is a working mom, and I’m currently a stay at home mom. I think we appreciate each other, especially for our differences, but also for the level of comfort we have with each other.
I can say things to her I wouldn’t dare say to any of my other friends, and vice versa. If she needs to call me out, she does. If I need to call her out, I do. We don’t need fluff. And over the years we have learned to take those moments, reflect on them and move on. I know without a doubt she will cut someone if I need her to, and she knows the same for me. We’ve both experienced highs and lows individually and together, and one common denominator has always been each other. Sisters.
My Grown-Up Friends
About 9 years ago I met a girl who is the friend I’ve always wanted to grow up and find. We were introduced by our husbands who “go way back.” She was kind and fun to talk to, but I totally discounted her as someone I could grow close to. She seemed reserved and quiet, and I sometimes don’t know when to shut up. We weren’t immediate friends, but years after our first meeting we found ourselves more and more frequently in one of our living rooms, hiding from our kids who would seek us out if our laughter grew too loud.
My heart was drawn to her because of the good she sees in everyone. She loves unequivocally and without question. Her patience seems unending, and her quick wit makes for lots of laughs when we are together. She moved (ironically enough, to my hometown) a year ago, and I miss her like it’s nobody’s business. We still talk often but not nearly often enough. The times I’ve seen her since she moved have been absolute medicine to my soul. The past year has shown me that two people can grow separately without growing apart, and she is one friend I hope to never outgrow.
The Golden Standard Friend
Another dear, dear friend of mine came into my life just a few short years ago, and while our paths crossed right when we needed them to, I will always wish I would’ve known her sooner. We were introduced by another friend, and it turned out we were neighbors. It wasn’t until after she moved to the other side of town that we began to build our relationship. How I wish I would’ve taken advantage of us being neighbors!
She is the gold standard of friends— loyal, wise, tactfully honest and blessed with words. We both love The Office and hate coffee, and while our motherhood journeys appear different on the outside, we are very similar in the way we raise our families. She is the friend everyone would love to have, but selfishly, I will ask that you find your own version of her and leave mine alone.
While these certainly aren’t all of the friends I cherish, they are the ones who are on my heart today.
Although we don’t realize it, we chose our friends based on what our hearts need. Describing my bests in words has made me realize the things I have loved in each of them are qualities I want for my own life. The reliable presence, the confidence, the serving spirit, the steadfastness, the unequivocal love, the wisdom. I hope each of these ladies know what a treasure they are to me. And if I can’t possess those qualities myself or in the quantity I desire, the next best thing is a best friend.
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