Friday, February 29, 2008

A Best Friend

What's your definition of a best friend? A new friend and I shared a meal recently - we're still in the stage of getting to know each other better, learning each other's stories - and best friend worked its way into the conversation. I don't remember how we got there. Probably just enjoying each other's company and talking about our developing friendship, or maybe I was being all "me" centered and talking about the friends I left (and miss!) in Florida. But we were on the topic and I asked about her friendships, whether or not she had a BFF.

You bloggy friends - I feel like I'm about to preach to the choir. So many of you seem to have multiple BFFs and BBFFs. But my new friend indicated that she doesn't have a best friend. I probed a little, unable to believe that a woman my age didn't have a bosom buddy, a David and Jonathan friend, one who sticks closer than a sister. It turns out that her definition of a best friend, if I understand correctly, is someone who is exclusive to you, someone you notify before you hang out with another friend, someone who demands and has the right to all your time. Not someone who sticks close to YOU in the best and worst of times. That sounds a little like my kids when they were younger, but not any of my best friends. It sounds very codependent, manipulative, needy. And a very real reason not to have a best friend.

So I told her my definition of a best friend, which most of you can probably relate to (especially you, Hallie and Kimmy): a best friend isn't someone you need to work to be friends with. A best friend - best friend in all the world - is a soul sister, a kindred spirit, someone who just "clicks" with you. They may not be initially, but they really are, without a lot of work. Yes, all relationships take work, but with a best friend you make it work out because you really WANT to be with that person or talk to them. You enjoy them, warts and all. You're not afraid to tell it like it is, but you love them enough not to crush them when you do it.

Sounds a lot like true love, doesn't it? I think it really is. There are ways in which my husband just can't relate to me. And that's okay. Geez - I wouldn't want him to. He can't be everything for me and he's not meant to be. My best friends round me out as a person in ways he can't. I love my best friends. And I have more than one. All over the country. They're the kind of people that I may not talk to for six months at a time, but if I picked up the phone tomorrow and called them, it would be like I saw them yesterday. There's just a comfort level that never goes away. We're like old, comfortable clothes that, not matter how long they've been in the back of the closet (I know that's a bad analogy), they still fit and are a favorite. There's a connection. When I described friendship that way, my new friend immediately saw that she does have best friends, which is comforting.

I received an email today from one of my very best friends. Someone I knew in Florida, but she moved away first. About the time she moved back to Florida, we moved away. She is by far one of the most creative, comfortable, amusing, talented and brilliant people I know. I wish I could have her here, but I can't. And that's okay. We're kindred spirits. We know each other's stories. Distance sucks, but we're still tight.

She's had an interesting five or six years, a lot of it difficult, which is always hard for family and friends, especially when there's nothing you can do. But one of the beautiful things to come out of the pain has been the time and opportunity for her to return to a first love: painting. This woman has built an entire garage, with her young daughters' help, renovated and flipped houses, made stained and patterned concrete counter tops, all kinds of practical creative projects. All beautiful and mind boggling for me. She has been a mentor and an inspiration to me for years. She even homeschooled all three of her girls, with her youngest starting college at 14 and earning an AA by 16. And all this time she's been like a sister.

Anyway, today she emailed concerning a story I'd sent her, one which had made me cry (I hate to cry), and told me about her venture into the art world. And she was so proud of herself in that she started her own website to promote her art. The one thing which has always tickled me is that in the computer she'd met her match. It made me feel human - the one thing I can do that she can't. You all know what I'm talking about. Yet she's one of the most humble, sweet people I know. With a wicked sense of humor.

FINALLY I get to the point! Go visit her website! The one she labored to make! I'm sure it took her FOREVER to figure it out and make it work (at least I feel better thinking it did). Check out her first love, her paintings. Drop her a line if you have a minute. Tell her who sent you if you'd like, but it's just as fun if you don't. I'm wicked that way. :) And by all means, call your very best friend and tell them (all of them) how much you love and appreciate them.

Until I write again ...



abb said...

Lovely definition of a best friend.

You're right - I have many, and they each fill a space in my life like no other.

Thanks for reminding me to THINK about that.

AutoSysGene said...

She does beautiful work!!

Casdok said...

I agree with your definition of best friend. I really dont know where i would be with out mine.

Karen said...

BFFs are something every woman needs. Unfortunately just about time I make one they move. But I've got a wonderful BFF now and she's a peach.

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Love yours and will certainly be back to explore. I totally agree with your take on the whole "BF/BFF" thing. I feel blessed to have a dear "best friend" who fits your definition to a T. Unfortunately, we're several hundred miles apart, but thanks to the miracle of technology, we can "talk" every day!

dlyn said...

I think the very best friendships are the ones where you are both looking to bless the other person, not necessarily be blessed yourself, though of course in that kind of relationship, you will be greatly blessed.
And I love your friend's paintings!

Gordo said...

Quite frankly, I find the term friend to be very much overused. So many people I talk to refer to people, that I would consider acquaintances, as friends.

Friendships are hard work. They have to be maintained and nurtured. I have less than a dozen and doubt I could manage more. And I like it that way.

I draw a hard line between friends and acquaintances: an acquaintance will help you move; a friend will help you move a body. ;-)

Flea said...

Gordo, I totally agree on the whole moving a body thing. You really don't know a true friend till you ask them to cover for you.

I typically only have three or four friends who live nearby at any one time. The long distance ones are eons old relationships, tried and true. The ones close to home, you're right, I make an effort to see them, set up lunch dates or walks. But it doesn't feel like work. Acquaintances - now those are the lunch dates I'm more apt to cancel when something else comes up.

kay said...

those pix are wonderful!! she is very talented.

i have been very blessed with several BFF's. my sis. life long friend
angela. friends for over 20 years but she is in NH and i am in NC. over 1000 miles separate us but we are connected in our souls!! and cathy. my bff here. she makes me want to be a better person. and i love them all. thanks for helping me to remember how important a friend can be. it's easy to take them for granted.

Gordo said...

My brother is three years younger than I and we only started to get along when we both hit our 20's. Almost 20 years later, he's one of the best friends I have.

brneyedgal967 said...

Oh my - you hit the definition of a BFF right on the head. I once had an old high school friend who moved to Florida and we kept in touch over the years, but if I let more than a week go by without a phone call or an e-mail, she'd rip me up one side and down the other. I'd explain that I had been busy - which I was. Anyway, long story short I finally just told her that since I was apparently so inconsiderate of her feelings, she didn't deserve to have me as a friend. And we haven't spoken since. And that's okay. Friends shouldn't be baggage - they should understand when you're bogged down with your life and connect back when you can. The rest of my BFF's are that way.

Thanks for such a lovely post. And coming after a great weekend with one of my BFF's.