Thursday, June 24, 2004

Best Friends

One of my very dearest friends (VDF) is coming to town tomorrow night.  She'll have dinner with my husband and me at our house, and my "best friend" (BF) and her husband (arguably my husband's "best friend" though that's a whole thing of its own), will join us.  BF and VDF are also "best friends" --- they went to junior high and high school together.  I met BF when VDF and I were housemates in college. This is very dangerous terrain for a public post.  This belongs in a private journal.

However, since I have yet to let anyone but my husband know about my blogging -- and even he doesn't have the URL -- and I'm thinking, too, about removing the links to any sites attached to people I actually know -- I think I'll use this forum to explore this just a little bit.

What makes my BF my "best" friend?  My VDF is someone I love no less than my BF.  For that matter, in many ways, at least right now, it's possible that my VDF and I have a more intimate dialogue whenever we talk or write to each other.  It is easier for me to share with her more casually my internal dialogue about god, about love, about life, about politics, about marriage, about the deepest goings-on in my soul because we are so often teasing apart the same knots of life's meaning and what is it to live faithfully (note: not synonymous with religiously, but not mutually exclusive, either).  We have very similar childhood histories, which also helps.  Essentially, our brains process things similarly, and in a quick volley of metaphor, she and I can speak volumes to each other.  Plus, we can always pick up where we left off regardless of the span since the last sentence.  And she loves and truly appreciates my husband -- big points for that.   

Meanwhile, neither VDF nor BF knows me as well or is as consistently, on a daily basis, aware of me and interested in what's going on in my life, what I'm feeling or thinking about at every level, from the substrata to the patina, as my husband is.  And I find him just as interesting.  But with him, it's easier.  For one thing, I love him so differently from the way I love my VDF and my BF that our relationship is, for obvious and less obvious reasons, outside comparsion.  He's my husband but he's also so much more.  He's my daily touchstsone, foil, and partner.  However, he gets the unique moniker of husband, and thus his unique role is somehow recognizable without tortured analysis. 

What are the short-cut categorizations of friends to define the relationship to outsiders (akin to "husband")? My BF is not necessarily my best friend -- at least not all the time.  She lives blocks away and by all counts should have been lock step with me in my wedding planning and experience, but instead, she didn't even realize that my wedding had been a four-day affair because she was only present for two days of it.  I used to perform in poetry slams, of which she never attended one.  The weekend I  came back from a year away, she went into the office to work. To be fair, I am sure that she has her own list of my wrongs. Nonetheless, she is, unmistakably, my BF.  It's a function of history, and more.  It's dailiness.  It's level of intimacy.  It's type of intimacy.  For all the times she doesn't come through, she's one hundred percent reliable if I need someone to help me see myself as wonderful, and worthy, and that over-used but particular adjective -- special.  She'll remind me to treat myself gently and with compassion even as I'm messing up.  And, I believe, I do the same for her. 

We became friends at a time in each of our lives when recognition of the importance of self-compassion was just germinating in both of us, and to have found each other and nurtured its growth right at that time was a heady, fantastic experience, the likes of which I have never experienced in friendship before.  We were head over heels in love with each other (in a platonic sense) and with the idea of figuring out what life is like when one is kind and friendly to oneself, and in some ways, the enduring friendship, now that we are both married and more aligned with our husbands' lives than with each other's, is akin to the relationship of any former lovers who remain friends, with all the strange jealousies and quirkily defined boundaries, even as the mutual interest in each other and love endures.  These days I'm no longer as close to her as I am to my husband, or possibly even my VDF.  But she is, remains, and may always be, my BF.

Because of all of them, I think, I am a better friend to myself and to all of the other kinds of friends that light the night sky.  I love them.  And, I can hardly wait to see them