There's something so special about a best friend. Depending on how long they've known us, they could be the Great Secret Keeper from our childhood, privy to all the horror, angst and pain of growing up; sharing in the unrequited loves, first kisses, the backseat tussles, and sneaking out the bedroom window at midnight on hot Summer nights, walking across the pitch in the garage roof, sliding down the tin roof of the shed to drop--silent as a ninja--to the ground, rendezvous point: the park, two blocks away.
Mom, if you're reading this? I'm just kidding, I never snuck out. Man, would you have grounded me for life, or what? So just ignore that bit, okay? It's just pretend...
If our best friends have come with adulthood, there are different secrets to keep, no less daunting, sometimes deadly, and still so very painful. Things are more serious now, with marriages, children, divorce, betrayals and heartbreak. We might not have to sneak out anymore, but we still need to escape.
I'm always amazed at partners who say they're best friends. For me, I don't see how that's actually possible. Yes, you can be as close as moss on a rock, be intensely intimate, share everything. To a point. But there are still things, in my mind, that require my female best friend. It's not that my partner wouldn't have listened, or helped if he could, but is he really going to want to discuss the minute details in diagnosing a yeast vs a bladder infection? The chin hairs? The yucky periods? No, he isn't. Unless he's an OB/GYN.
Plus, how are you going to complain, rag, or otherwise blow off the steam a partner can generate, if you don't have someone else to talk to? Someone who understands that all you really need to do is vent about what an ass he is/has been/continues to be. And if it comes down to those inevitable life changes, then you'll need that best friend to support you through the endings, and rejoice at your new beginnings.
On Sundays, nearly without fail, Jan (my BFF) and I talk on the phone. She lives in a remote part of northern Idaho, I live on a mountain in southern Oregon. We don't see each other much, but it doesn't matter, as long as we can talk. Even for all the years I lived in Scotland, we still talked every week. It's been many years since we both lived and worked in Seattle, but our BFF status has not changed, regardless of the miles, the countries or the years.
This morning, as I was walking the dogs, I was replaying part of our Sunday chat. It got me thinking about our relationship; the stories and secrets we hold tight, about and for, each other. When I'm about to tell her something serious, or secret, or a thing I would normally keep locked up in my head, I always start out with, "I would only tell you this..." She does the same. It's our code for I trust you and this goes no further. No one knows more about me--for good or ill--than she does, and vice versa.
She can also make me laugh harder than anyone on the planet. I, on the other hand, can make her laugh until she snorts, which she hates, but it always makes us laugh harder, makes her snort more, until we're both gasping for breath with stomach aches. We can also ramble, digress, argue, cry and rage. I love her like my sister.
Here is a small excerpt from our conversation on Sunday:
I'm bitching about some injustice or other, I can't remember what. Just pick one, there are so many...
"But if we rose up as a people, we could take back America. There are 200 million of us, and only a handful of them!"
"Start a movement. A revolution."
"Can't see it."
"But if you got people fired up, maybe it would make a difference."
"Come on, that's pretty doubtful."
"Someone has to do it. You could." She paused. "Although..."
"Well, what if it went to your head and you turned into a dictator, a crazed Idi Amin, or some other wacko?"
I laugh. "Do I seem like someone who would go nuts with power?"
"Hey, it happens all the time! In fact, if you think about human history, it always happens."
"Seriously, you can picture me as a ruthless dictator?"
"I'm totally offended!" I spout. "I would never be ruthless."
"Maybe not at first, but once that power went to your head? Watch out."
"Tell you what. My first ruthless act will be to throw you in the deepest dungeon I can find!"
"See," she says smugly, "not even a real dictator, and already you're power mad."