February 12, 2012

This Valentine's Day, How about Making an Homage to Your Best Friend?

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought, What better time than to write an homage to my best friend?  I am just like many of you – Valentine’s Day is just another Hallmark holiday.  That’s not to say that I don’t love the range of pink and red colors associated with it, Conversation Hearts, and the hope of getting a card from my lover, but otherwise there is too much commercialism surrounding the day.  I think we should try and celebrate the people we love every day, but nevertheless, it’s a good reminder to communicate that appreciation to the people we may not always think to tell, like our best friends. 

With the exception of my college years when navigating that strange social sphere seems to preclude the need for a best friend, since the age of three, I have pretty much maintained a best friend at each phase of my life.  I am the kind of girl who prefers one close friend to many.  I have a predilection for deep, intense conversations over milling around a crowd at a party, sharing brief small talk with one group to the next, so I consider best friendships to be vitally important.  If you are fortunate enough to have kept the same best friend since childhood, consider yourself lucky, because finding a best friend as an adult is not always easy.  In many ways, I liken it to dating. 

I met CB the first day of grad school orientation.  She sat next to me in Teaching College Composition, a class we were both taking to learn the ins and outs of teaching English 101 as graduate teaching assistants.  Upon discovering we had both been assigned to the same office, we became fast friends.  CB and I both happen to be INFJs, the rarest of the 16 Meyers-Briggs’ personality types, Kiersey referred to as “Counselors.”  Despite the fact that INFJs “are guarded in expressing their own feelings, especially to new people, and so tend to establish close relationships slowly" (Wikipedia), there was an unspoken comfort between CB and me that made the friendship ripen very quickly, consequently leading the friendship to best-friend caliber within a few short months. 

It helps that we both enjoy the same kinds of things – a love of writing and reading, a passion for food and reality TV, and talking about our feelings.  We also both have daddy issues, although of a different variety, have family members who have suffered from addiction, and generally feel misunderstood by most people.  At the same time, we are both very different.  She is more outgoing, more self-assured and self-accepting in many ways, and is generally more likable than me.  In sum, she’s pretty awesome in every way possible, which makes me pretty lucky to have such a great chick for a best friend.  She’s also much cheaper than therapy.  All I buy her is a meal on her birthday, and bam, there you have it.  But seriously, I owe her much more than that for her friendship.  Her only flaw, really, is that some of her musical choices are questionable, but I’m sure she’d feel the same about me.  And who am I to say that Michael Bublé is a manufactured act made to appear more talented than he is?  Really, I have no qualifications, because I happen to listen to and like Katy Perry, who some may also consider a manufactured act also. 

CB (right) and me at Maine Maple Sunday last year.

For a year and a half after grad school, CB and I worked at the same company.  I’m not lying when I say that I went through a depression for a solid month when she left for the gig of her dreams, a full-time teaching position at the local community college.  Luckily, we have girls’ nights at least once every week; otherwise, I would probably be in a mental institution right now. Oftentimes, our girls’ nights consist of getting together for dinner; other times we go shopping at places like Target where we push the cart together like a lesbian couple discussing the merits of cold cream and Arm & Hammer laundry detergent.  We also enjoy going to the drive-thru at Dairy Queen so we can hang out in the dark parking lot, licking our soft-serve ice cream cones, fogging up the windows, and talking about the meaning of life, sex, et al.  As I write this, it occurs to me that we probably really do seem like the lesbian couple I'm joking about, except that we have no sexual relationship and are not attracted to each other, but aside from that, and if we were both single, I would totally marry her!  (And I’m only part kidding about that.)

CB understands me like very few people do.  I might even venture to say that, without wanting to offend my husband or my mother, she might understand me better than anyone.  She certainly knows more about me than anyone does, which, if you read above, that’s saying a lot, because I’m not a big show-and-tell-to-every-Tom-Dick-and-Harry kind of gal.  This past Thursday, we had dinner at one of our favorite places, Buen Apetito.  I was having a moment where I couldn’t stop obsessing about something that I couldn’t get out of my head.  She said, wisely to me (pardon the paraphrasing), “Why do you feel the need to fix everything?  If you just accept [the thing you’re obsessing about] you’ll likely stop obsessing about it anyway.”  As a perpetual self-fixer, this was a progressive revelation to me.  Accept and relish in the obsession?  What a concept!  But she was right.  As soon as I accepted what I couldn’t stop thinking about, I intrinsically began obsessing about it less. 

In the past few years that I’ve known CB, I feel like I’ve become a better person, which I can only hope is the same for her.  She is only a handful of years older than me, but she’s got the wisdom of an 80-year-old Buddhist monk – or at least I think so.  Most important, though, is the deep connection we have and the intense mutual understanding that we have of each other.  When I think of family, she is as much a part of that unit as my parents, siblings, and my husband, so much so that if I had my choice and if she didn't have her own familial unit, I’d mandate her presence at every holiday. 

If you have a CB in your life whom you cherish as much as I do, take this Valentine’s Day to tell her (or him) how much you appreciate their friendship.  The good ones are very hard to find and can be taken from you at any time. 

1 comment:

Cheri said...

What a beautiful tribute, Sarah! Very touching and heartfelt.