Growing up I had one girlfriend that I could relate to more than all others. From the beginning we developed a strong connection. We were attached at the hip; I suppose you could say that we were absolutely inseparable. We shared all of our dreams, aspirations and goals and we always admired and supported each other’s ambitions even when we knew that our dreams were often unrealistic and impossible to reach.
We hardly ever disappointed one another. We forgave one another’s weaknesses and expected very little stroking or flattering compliments from each other. Although, we were less than perfect, we found the faults in one another somehow a little reassuring since we did not have to hide our imperfections the way we felt we had to when we were with the rest of our group. We could be raw in the presence of one and other without apologizing for what was real in us.
We were always there to help one another process our sadness and our childhood losses and to rework our lives after these episodic traumas. We found safety and comfort in the context of our friendship and we loved each other into what we had to be to grow up and to trust ourselves.
In those days, everything my friend did was of interest to me. Her influence over me was immeasurable. Much of who I am today is because of my pre-adolescent and young teenage friend. Many of my likes and my dislikes, and defiantly, a lot of my views of the world as I tend to see it, can be attributed to hours of intense discussions we had during any one of our numerous sleepovers. Even my romantic life has been impacted by my early association with my best friend.
My preferences in men over the years have reflected the checklists of early criteria that we chose together. I suppose, I have been trying to match up those qualities we said the boys in our life would have when our world was young, searching for a number of these ennobled personality traits even after I hit my 40’s, before ever considering dating a particular man.
We had lots of crushes on boys during our middle years of school. A good majority of the time, the young men we set our sights on did not know we existed and that maddened us to no end. We tried everything we could think of to get their attention and of course, that was the real fun of it, the plans we made to capture their eyes and our daily schemes and collaborations. When all our efforts turned out to be in vain, we were dully devastated, we cried and then, picked each other up, and helped bring each other’s confidence back again.
I have never had another friend like her. When we finally grew apart in our early twenties and went our separate ways, I never could replace her. I guess we knew we could move on because the kind of friendship we had gave us a great sense of inward security and we knew the memories of its existence would last a lifetime for us. I rarely think of her as an adult, for me she remains a vivid part of my tender years. I see her at a time when we felt unsure and awkward in the world, when we were wistful and acted on our whims.
I see her in my recollections of those naïve days when we were enchanted by practically, everyone and everything. When we promised each other we would stick together and be there for one another for life – we were gal pals and best friends, when my thoughts were her thoughts, and my wishes, her wishes. And, so it was with us, as it is with all friendships born in youth, they are a gift of our childhood, so precious and yet, so fleeting in their nature but so everlasting in their impact on our adulthood relationships.