Seems like finding friends gets quicker and easier with the world getting smaller and since growing old inevitably brings new people into your life. But I’ve never been one to take the label “best friends” lightly.
As a matter of fact, two people have already declared they were my best friends: one was this girl I met when I was a teenager and later on, another girl I met in college. The first was rather uncomfortable to say “no” to. I was young and I didn’t think it was polite to oppose it. But we only really talked every summer and we talked about trivial matters. The second “best friend” bravely told me she found me too much of a snob but spent time with me. A short while after, she sheepishly said, “We’re best friends, right?”. And although I knew a best friend is something more than what I felt I had with her, I thought this was the closest I had to it, so I smiled and said, “I think so.”
Not Quite the BFF
I continued being friends with them, especially, with the second “bff”; but I’ve often analyzed how careful she was not to offend me or that she would hide unpleasant facts about herself from me. She didn’t want me to be close to others and she’d often backbite them so I’d get turned off. Though I bared my soul, I honestly felt I was deprived of things anyone should hear from her best friend. When I thought time would bring us closer, we only really spent time together through the years. That was it: we just spent time together and updated one another of what was going on with the other. It was like someone high-fived me on the face when I found out she had betrayed me for selfish reasons. I was giving it another try because I felt bad about throwing all those years away. But it tasted bitter.
I knew that it tasted bitter because I was beginning to taste sweetness. A great friendship was unfolding and nobody had to put a label to it. Nobody had to uncomfortably ask the other. Nobody had to force anyone to spend time with the other.
My mother has faulted me several times for going with anybody, with any crowd. With just a text message or a call, I get dressed and go. This was such a dilemma for me, too, because my strict mom wouldn’t allow me to leave the house most of the time. She said some of my friends weren’t a good influence on me because they smoke, they didn’t finish college when they had every opportunity to do so, they shift careers and not take their jobs seriously, that their lives don’t have direction. I thought she was trying to reel me in. Looking back, I now know she was just trying to save me from wasting my time and emotions with people who would just really come and go. Friends for convenience. Friends to kill time with. Friends to share a few selected stories with. Friends to go to reunions and parties and a new movie out with.
The Bitch Has Arrived
She’s a brutally honest woman, fastidious, has a discriminating taste, well-read, highly opinionated, intellectual, and gets completely irked by stupid and ugly people. I know, I know… one would think she’s mean. But I’d call her ballsy. I met her through a friend and chatted with her before personally meeting her. I politely answered her UP and politics-related questions when we chatted and the whole time we were out that night. She kept looking at my face and although she was smiling, I felt like a specimen under a microscope and jokingly covered my face with the restaurant’s menu. Later on, we’d go out with mutual friends till it eventually became just us. We talked for hours and hours on end and our topics ranged from music to current events to family.
But she was broken. During the first few months, I wanted to help her get through broken relationships and cut myself out of the picture. I had felt that we were too different and she just needed someone to be there while she healed. That was how I felt about our friendship. Then, one night, I had coffee with her and I was wearing a skirt for the first time. Being a stylist, she was ecstatic and insisted that we went shopping the next day. She asked me to wear one ensemble and asked me to walk in a straight line. She demanded I look to the left, turn around, fix the sleeves — hey, wait, we’re not so polite now, aren’t we?
Yes, I guess that was the turning point. Funny how it happened but I suddenly woke up and realized I really liked this person ordering me around like I was a model and pointing out my mistakes pointblank. She insisted, she argued with me, she woke me up (I hate it when anybody wakes me up), she urged me to make a stand, and scolded me when I do something stupid. All the while, she picked me up from work every day because she feared for my safety, she checked how I was doing all the time, saw to it that nobody was hurting me, taught me how to reason out with my parents, made me see who my true friends are, taught me how to let go of people pulling me down, showing me how to deal with abusive and offensive people. She taught me how to file a case against an employee with unprofessional behavior, did mock interviews when I had job interviews, took me to the E.R., taught me to confront a colleague who was hitting on me in a malicious manner, recommended doctors, made me appreciate my beauty, took care of me, loved me.
We were housemates for three years. We’ve transferred from one place to another and she has become my furbaby’s other petmom (that’s my shih tzu!). We’ve had the biggest fights, the happiest times. I’ve discovered things about myself as she has about herself, too. Though we live in the same house, we still talk while I’m at work. And when I’m home, we spend time talking about everything we can think of. I’ve never loved hugging anyone as much as I do when I hug her. When I would feel awkward being sweet to anyone, I don’t when it comes to her that I’m okay holding hands with her in public. I’ve become responsible over another person, felt responsible over someone I really love and value.
We’re Going Home
I thought I would be able to write this right after she left for the States. I was dead wrong. I’ve never cried so hard when I took her to the airport, one of the staff even sang, “Don’t cry for me, Argentinaaaa!”. The cab driver said, “I bet you don’t cry like that for your husband.” (now that was really funny). The hours she was on the plane were the saddest and those few hours she waited for her connecting flight and we chatted made me smile again. I cried when I saw her stuff at the house and tried to sleep. I would wake up and start crying again. I hadn’t imagined it to be that devastating. I couldn’t bring myself to write anything or talk to anyone. Tears come streaming down so easily. Just like now. I go to work and continue living but I just really wait till I talk to her again, chat with her again.
I’m happy she’s with her family right now. Though it’s only been a short while since she left, I’ve managed to change my mindset: move forward. This is what we both need. Goals are set, plans are in place, and I’m excited to go home. To my best friend.
Here’s our song: