When I’m with him, I think of songs like Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” and Harry Nilsson’s “Best Friend.”
You know, classic anthems of two friends blissfully enjoying one another’s company. These songs aren’t quite as applicable to us, as we’ve accrued an expansive collection of “our” songs through our now ten years of friendship.
That, and endless essential memories.
This story began ten years ago, on a Friday afternoon in Panera Bread (as all friendships should!) Our middle school sat across from the plaza in which it sat, nearly dormant during the week, but always ready for the eruption of preteen socialite wannabes as soon as we could slam our locker doors and run across the street. Bus engines roared for the handful of students that had other plans.
That Friday had been no different, until the two girls I had been sitting with invited him to join us. “Do you know him?” He seemed apprehensive to join our table, but did so anyway.
From there, we had little to no period of getting to know each other. Before I knew it, we were staying up late instant messaging. Being honorary dates to middle school socials, then homecoming and prom. Going to movies. Touring colleges. Binge-watching HBO’s Girls. We even had the same kitchen job.
After seven years, the time came for our paths to diverge as we headed to college. For me, that meant leaving our shared job behind and going more than an hour away to unfamiliar territory. For him, that meant maintaining what had once been our shared job and commuting to a school less distant than mine.
Our last hoorah was a full day of shopping (for him, nice clothes and for me, dorm supplies) which concluded with a somewhat impulsive trip to a hair salon. We left both looking and feeling radically different, which ultimately set the tones for the new and separate lives we were to lead. His sleek, shiny hair in its new hue reminded me of warm honey, which made him look ready to become a wildly brilliant and inspirational educator. My hair maintained its natural shade of chocolate brown, but was cropped to a pixie cut, which made me look like the daring, carefree rebel I felt like on the inside. We were ready.
College meant very different things to both of us, and although we kept in touch, our once inseparable bond had been weakened. He dedicated his time to reading, and working long hours at a new job. I dedicated mine to going on nighttime adventures with new friends and then to getting over the guy who broke my heart.
At the conclusion of freshman year, we were both back in town for the entire summer. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly a year. He asked me to join him for lunch and although I still considered him a dear friend, I was nervous to see him again.
My nerves vanished the moment I stepped into his car. After the necessary catching up, it felt as though we had never been apart. I had forgotten just how wonderful it felt to be with him. The music he played was some of the same that we had always listened to; the music he burned onto blank CDs for me in our middle and high school days. I realized that I needed to do what I could to keep him in my life, because I am truly a better and happier person with him and because of him.
Granted, we still fight. That may never change, but now we’ve realized now that nothing over which we fight is more important than our friendship.
He is my shoulder to cry on, and I am his. He is my support system, my cheerleader, and above all, my best friend. I hope to be the same for him. Our lives will continue to change, and we will do the same. Regardless, I look forward not only to reminiscing about beloved memories with him, but also to creating new ones. “Here’s to us.”
*All images courtesy of Giphy