Here's to Friendships

There's a peculiar phenomenon in the way that someone captivating, enticing, and enchanting can enter our lives and so quickly become the center of our Universe... The way we hand ourselves over to an almost-complete stranger who happens to vibrate at the same frequency as us - even if only for a moment.

That moment in itself is enough to lure us in and twirl us in circles while we dance and dip our way in and out of stimulating conversation and infatuating rapport. We pour out every last drop of ourselves over full-bodied wine and unraveling chords as the speakers sound and our hearts hinge open.

For some, these moments were shared intimately and with a twinge of romance while for others, perhaps it was your first friend when you moved to a new city with nothing but a carryon and some crumpled twenties stuffed in the pocket of a navy peacoat you were given three Christmas's ago.

To new towns, cities, places of work, and parties, we show up with holes to fill and points to make. If we're lucky, we meet someone who can fill those holes. In fact, we jump at the chance to do so.

And if you're really lucky, you've experienced a connection so immediate that this almost-stranger becomes a "best friend" in a matter of days, over hundreds of texts and hours of conversation.

I guess you could say I'm one of the lucky ones. I've had the good fortune to experience many passing "ships"... friendships with length, some with love, and others that have been robust but with an expiration date.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d tell myself that a best friend isn’t built overnight.

They’re built together over moments in the corner of your room scooping out crunchy Jif peanut butter by the spoonful at age six.

They’re built over nights when you drive their car home while they lay asleep in the passenger seat next to you, numbed by a broken heart and tear-dried eyes.

A best friend is built on the edge of a preschool classroom where you shuffle away to show each other the color of the underwear you picked out that day and the teacher calls your mom to deem your actions inappropriate.

I know what a best friend is because I know what it’s like to drive down back roads at night with the windows down as you sing to the stars with your head back and your eyes well with tears when you hold their hand and sing the Dixie Chicks version of “Landslide” for the thousandth time.

You both laugh through your tears as you wonder who allowed the passage of time to move so quickly, catapulting you into the uncharted territory of “adulthood.”

You laugh about the time you snuck out together, jumping a fence and cracking your tailbone all for the sake of youth.... yet you made it down to the dock with a fifth of your parent's liquor anyways.

A best friend is built through the collaged shoebox you received from them when you were ten that you still have nestled in the bottom drawer of your bedside table... still with every intention to regift this now-sacred box on the day they say "I do."

It takes years to build a bank of memories and if friendship is measured in moments, then the best ones are still being built.

I’d tell myself to savor that night sitting on the pier with them. Remember the way the rain pelted your face as you flitted home together through the cobblestone streets of downtown Charleston while swimming in an endless pool of youth and laughter.

Remember that joy, that freedom, and the novelty of it all. And know that these moments are ones of training.

Of preparing and expanding your heart.

I'd tell myself that some friends, like well-timed humor, are meant for a certain place and time. Though that place and time might have since passed, be forever grateful to have moved through the friendship however you did. Be it with grace or grit, each passage of friendship is a lesson learned.

If you approach every relationship as a teachable trial, then you too will be one of the lucky ones. You too will have won. Every time.

Despite the heartache and heartbreak, distances and derailments, a best friend is one who is still there. After all this time.

They're not built overnight and not even in a month. They're built through the experience of evacuating four different times together from three different cities. After sharing 300 square feet and many bottles of wine.

A best friend is one who might even know you better than you know yourself because of the way in which they observe you from the outside in.

What I've learned about a best friend is sometimes the friendships with the most promising of starts end up only lasting for the best part of two years. Others take time to ease into and ramp-up until you reach the point of a slow burn in which you both take turns giving oxygen to the flame that will forever flicker so long as there's breath in your lungs and love in your heart.

A best friend isn't built overnight but they can sure be met over one.

To the friends near and far, old and new: thank you. Thank you for teaching me everything I know about laughter, loss, loneliness, luck, living, and love. In the worn-in words of Tennyson: " 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."