What can I say about my best friend?
Well, first, I want to post a disclaimer…like 60% of my friends are my best friends. I try not to have too many friends at a time, in general, and the ones who have stood the test of distance and time, I keep close to my chest.
But Brittany, she and I have some real relational resiliency. I mean, we’ve fought over money before. I feel like that’s a big deal. That’s like family s**t. And Brittany is like the sister I’ve never had.
Last Friday was her birthday, (THIRTY!!!) and I wanted to publicly brag on her and share what her friendship means to me.
Brittany and I spent an entire summer working at the same summer camp without saying a thing to each other. Some early mornings, we’d sit together, on duty and waiting for kids to be dropped off early. We might gruffly nod at each other, mumble some approximation of “good morning” into the air at no one in particular.
We stayed on at the camp into the fall for the free housing. I think we recognized in each other our best chance of staying sane in that place. That sounds dramatic, but it really was like a Thursday night NBC sitcom in real life. Our ratings would have killed.
I don’t want to say that we bonded at a “low” point in our lives-that’s cliche-but it was weird, awkward, in-between, sweet time. Like middle school. Brittany was returning to WA after a year in China and four in college before that. I had just packed up my little Hyundai Elantra with everything I owned, no friends, just a bit of money, and even less of a clue about what was next for me.
We quickly took to calling ourselves the “sad broke girls”, making a life by consuming whatever food we could get free or cheap, sour patch watermelons, and Redbox movies.
But we grew from that place, graduating from creaky camp bunk beds to mattresses on the floor in a rented room in a boarding house, to the first apartment either of us had every really had to get on our own. We filled it with furniture we’d borrowed and picked up for free from the side of the road. We disagreed over what to hang on the walls and argued over dishes left in the sink. We were frustrated by each other’s quirks and our frequent misunderstandings. We were just two girls who thought they were women, helping each other grow up.
Brittany is one of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had; simultaneously able to be objective about situations I need help with and always on my side. She’s let me drag her to lame parties with people who thought they were cooler than they are, just so I could be around the boy I liked (now my husband). She sends me goofy ass gifts just to remind me that someone I’m not related to cares about me. She’s supported me when she didn’t know how to, just by sticking around.
From driving eight hours to Portland on a whim, to sneak-eating Jimmy John’s sandwiches in the bathroom stalls of historic theater, to casually crossing decrepit train tracks over the sea when I’m a afraid of heights AND can’t swim; my friendship with Brittany has helped me tap into a side of myself that’s silly and foolish and brave and human and surprisingly kind. I talk to (and come to care for) people I normally wouldn’t because of her. I’ve walked farther and through harsher conditions-literally and metaphorically- than I would ever choose on my own, because she’s helped me see that I can.
Usually, we make friends with people because we want to be more like them. We should really make friends with people because they make us want to be more like ourselves. Brittany taught me that.
So, Happy Brithday, B. Here’s to another thirty years of exploring the unknown, encounters with weirdoes, and late nights pondering the deep, tender things of life.