I’ve known my best friend for half my life: we met in college and while we weren’t one of those so-close-we-live-in-each-other’s-pockets type of friends we have maintained the friendship through consistent determination and honest conversation. We didn’t go to the same Uni, we still struggle to call one another on a regular basis, and when she had her first child she sent me a bunch of flowers that thanked me for still being her friend because she knows how I feel about babies (note: not for me)!
All I know is that she would be the first person I would call in a crisis. She’d be the one I’d want to tell my good news to straight away. And, despite the aversion I have to standing up in front of family and friends to dedicate my life to my other half, she is one of the two people I would ultimately choose to stand next to me as a witness at such a time.
Because we live thirty minutes away from one another with lives that don’t often converge, it can be a challenge to get together. Often we catch up over coffee when I’m in town, or I drop by for a cuppa when I’m passing on my way to Festival business. But today was the first day in a long time where we arranged to do something just the two of us – by going to afternoon tea at a lovely place near to where I live. We gorged ourselves on cake and scones, drank two potfuls of tea, and talked, and then we came back to my place and talked some more. I forget how easy it can be when you’ve known someone so long and so well. The details of the story matter less than the emotional content wrapped up within them, and we’ve become adept at identifying these in one another.
We have very different lives when it comes down to it. With two children my best friend is focused on family life and being the best Mum she can be, whereas mine is clearly geared toward a career of some kind – be it in Cultural Education or Writing (still to be determined). We both enjoy reading, but she doesn’t really get much time to devote to such luxuries, so she’s oftentimes apologising to me that she didn’t read the book I lent her. It doesn’t bother me; I like that she’s different to me. It makes for more interesting conversation. Listening to her describe how she is trying to balance her attention between her three-year old with chicken pox and a four-month old baby awes me. I honestly don’t know how she does it. Perhaps the respect we have for one another in approaching a life so divergent from our own is what keeps us so close.
The one thing I do know is that listening to her validates the choices I’ve made in my own life. My best friend is a wonderful mother and family life fulfils her in a way it could never do for me: that just isn’t the life I dream of. Yet, because she is my best friend I get no judgement from her for not making the same choices she has; she supports my dreams as much as I champion hers. We don’t envy one another’s lives, we complement them by being a sounding board when things are tough and someone to celebrate with when they’re great. Therefore perhaps it’s because we’re so different that we get on so well.
Whatever the reasoning for it; I’m happy today, and that’s primarily down to the fact that my best friend brings joy into my life just by being there.