You could be walking around the town without your head screwed on and they’d be the first to notice and tell you ‘dude, you look lost’.
They have this marvellous habit of finding you. Particularly when you didn’t even realise you were wandering. I know not all those that wander are lost – Lord of the Rings told me as much. But you need those people in your life that notice when you’re moodily staring into space in the cocktail bar. They ask you if you’re okay even when they probably know you’re not but they know you need to hear yourself say the words. ‘I am not okay’.
We all need that ‘I am not okay’ safe space friend.
Having your mum or dad or sister on speed dial is one thing. Having your old primary school best friend across the world might not cut it anymore. But your person – some version of a platonic soul mate maybe – needs to be there to recognise and truly see you. To listen to you and actually hear what you’re saying. Who counts down the days to your birthday so that they can give you really thoughtful presents and a card that will make you cry.
Then when you get the heart emojis in response and feel your heart grow six sizes because friendship is truly something that no one should be without. I firmly believe that you can live without a lover or partner. You can’t live without friends. Honestly, you can’t. It’s the moments when you all get tipsy before the club and they slur and ask if you know that you made them cry with the present. As if you didn’t bottle that feeling when you saw the response and commit it to memory thereafter. Treasured memories all over.
This is the friend that you always think to go to whenever something new happens to you.
Be it happy, sad, important or largely irrelevant. They’re the first call you make, the first face you look for in the crowd of other people. The notification that pops up and makes you grin when you see what dog meme they’ve sent you on their work break. Friendship is magic, basically.
It’s not effortless though – even though it will eventually feel like that. You have to prioritise each other to make it work. If you are university friends it’s not enough to simply be on the same course or have a similar schedule. It’s offering to walk together, sit together or meet up outside of that environment. Of when you’re both stressed and can only tolerate each other’s company.
Or when you’re angry and you have a fight and shout at them for the first time and don’t know what to do with yourself afterwards. You send a jaunty postcard through their door and meet for coffee to apologise and cry. But you were due a small fight to remind each other of how much you mean to each other and how hard it is to be alone.
You have been there for them and they’ve been there for you.
You know they will pick up your call or let you in if you come to their door crying. Hopefully. Often that knowledge is simply known, more still frequently, it is tested.
But you know they’re there. After your grandma dies you sit on the floor of your university accommodation, a bit lost, a lot heartbroken, but also confused. A few hours pass and you give yourself an hour to cry and blast Adele and try to count your emotions in through the door. You check off sadness and hurt and can’t quite carry what that leaves you with but it feels terrible. It has occurred to you that you need to talk to someone.
But not to talk to them but to see someone. You wonder if you should bother someone. How to phrase it. What do I say? You send the message. Sad news. My grandma died. I don’t really know what to do. Immediately you feel stupid for phrasing it so weirdly and anticlimactically.
They’re back at you soon though. A cushion to the neck as you lie down.
Come over, I’ll come there. What do you need. What can I do. It’s so hard. I’m here for you.
Then you come over slouching through the town in your pjs and arrive at their doorbell and give a little tilt of the head and a grimace as you enter the threshold. You sit on the sofa and take the blanket and let her talk at you for a few hours while Gilmore Girls plays on in the background. She is reticent to let you walk home but you decide the air will do you good and you need a bed you recognise. She trusts you and prays for you.
The next few weeks she sticks to you like glue and doesn’t leave you alone in the best way. When you come back from the funeral she scoops you straight to a café to talk it through and clears the day. You realise a month after that that you don’t know what you would have done without her. Probably gone home and not come back. Who knows.
But now you’ve visited their hometown and she’s come over and you know it’s a friendship that will last.
You certainly hope so. Her mother enquires about how you’re dealing with a small dorm room, and your mum wonders whether her dogs are still thriving. Let it be said that there was more positive news to impart on the dog’s end than on mine. I wouldn’t wish the box room on anyone.
But here we are.
Reminiscing and thinking of all the ride or die lengths that you would go to for each other. We would do most things for each other.
Hang onto that. It’s not easily gained but you must continue to nurture that relationship.
Best friends are quite simply, the best. Particularly mine.