Thursday, April 26, 2012

Friends In High Places

Debby, during our trip to Branson

My best friend Debby died seven years ago on a hailing, storm-ridden morning in Spring. Actually, I don't know if she considered me her best friend. We never talked about it or analyzed it, we just up and started doing everything together one day.

We worked at the same company. I was the newbie, and also the youngest non-intern there. She took me under her wing, asking me to do something with her during our off hours one day. It was so long ago now that I can't even remember what it was. But, it wasn't long before we were visiting new restaurants together, having pizza parties during the Golden Globes and gossiping about co-workers and bosses and people we didn't know. We took shopping road trips to Branson and Schaumberg, IL, went to movies on weekends, did concerts after work, pulled pranks on our office manager together and dissected the latest episodes of Gilmore Girls and The X-Files over extended coffee breaks.

I don't think I ever told Debby everything. Like about how lonely I'd been before we started hanging out. Or how I'd never been on a date and was a virgin. I certainly never mentioned that I'd always felt like a loser. But it really didn't matter. Because with Debby around everything was better. Brighter, happier, bolder, more interesting and exciting.

Debby was really quite different from me. She was a few years older (You'll think it's silly, but I never asked her age. Again, it didn't matter.) and the kind of outgoing, outspoken person that many people loved. (Unless they disliked her. Which was usually either because she'd put them in their place or was obviously liked by more people then they were.) She'd been around and done stuff and known people, which I hadn't.

She also had the kind of loud, addictive laugh that would stop the whole office and have our co-workers asking What? What's so funny? Tell me! Debby was also the best gift-giver I've ever known. Mention a thing once, briefly and in passing, and you were guaranteed to have it either on your birthday or at Christmas. Guaranteed.

Debby was not the only best friend I'd ever had. There were Danielle and Chiquita in grade school. Sara in high school. Emily in high school, college and a few years after college. I'd never quite had a friend like Debby, though, and I don't know if it'd be possible to have a friend that cool again. But, I'd like to try.

I'm now four years deep into my friend desert. After quitting the company where I met Debby, I was left with one friend from the old co-working gang who keeps in touch on a regular basis. We meet once a year for our shared birthday and email a few times beyond that. She's got three kids, a husband, a full time job, is running her own business on the side and doesn't even live in the same state as me. This is why we see each other once a year.

Emily found me on Facebook last year and we talk on the phone every month or so. Why don't we hang out? She's got a husband who works crazy hours and a rambunctious three-year-old...Oh, yeah, and in the past year she's moved from Boston to Chicago to a beach-side city in California. I still lay my head down in our hometown of St. Louis every night.

I need some girl talk. Some shopping trips and concert-going hijinks and female bonding sessions that begin with crying and end with raucous laughter. As nice as my family is, I need face time with other women who are not related to me.

If you're looking for the same thing, but are anxiety-ridden about trying to friend folks as an adult (like me), you should read the book I finished last week. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. Rachel found herself in a new city without her network of besties around and decided to go on one friend date a week for a whole year. It took guts (Debby would approve), but it worked.

And when you're feeling weary and alone there's nothing better than knowing that someone walked the path before you and made it work.


Susan Cooper said...

I read your post and a tear came into my eye. I lost my best friend, tragically, as a result of domestic violence. I miss all the things we did together and all the things you wrote about in your article. I now have other friends but there are only a few who fit into the category of "best". :-), Susan Cooper

Tracey Nolan said...

She sounds really, really special. Wish you were in Toronto, I'd LOVE to bring you out with my girls. You'd fit right in. Geography sucks.

SoMuchSugar said...

Debby sounds like such a wonderful friend to have had, what great memories you have and how beautifully you've written about them.

I miss all my old girlfriends too. I know what it is like to be in a friend/girl-talk desert!! It sucks.

Jnine said...

Sorry we don't live closer (Chicago suburbs). I could definitely use a friend like you City Girl.

It's hard to make friends especially as we get older and more set in our ways. Never liking to draw attention to myself for fear of making a fool of myself I too am a bit of a loner. I did recently decied to take Piano lessons. It does make me have to have conversations with people I normally would be afraid to talk to, not because there is anything wrong with them, but because I'd be too chicken to start a conversation for fear they would laugh at me and tell me not to bother them :-).

Try something new. Remember how well you did at Panera talking to that one lady? Try it again. If it doesn't work no harm done right?

Love you blog. Been reading since you went to Vegas and wrote that letter!

Here's hoping your friend desert will end soon!


Citygirl said...

Susan: So sorry to hear about your friend. I haven't heard many accounts of people losing their friends to death the way we have. Friendship is such a big part of life; you'd think people would have talked about this aspect of it more. Thanks for reading :)

Tracey: You know if I'm ever in Toronto I'm looking you up, right? Same goes if you ever hit St. Louis.

Sugar: The desert sure does suck out loud! I really miss so many of the simple things. Like gossiping and talking about pop culture nonsense. Maybe we should Skype!

Jeannine: You're so right about making friends as we get older. Without the constant of school or work or band practice we fall out of the rhythm of talking to new people.

I've been volunteering, and am hoping I will strike up a conversation with just the right person one day. I also signed up at and just got matched with a group of women to meet at a local cafe. I'll let you know how it goes!

As always, thanks for reading and sticking with me for so long!

coach-daddy said...

I'm a guy, so a dynamic of girl friendness is a bit out of my grasp, but from what I can see from this side, when a friend works her way into your life and your soul and your personality as extensively as she has, you'll see that when she is gone from this earth, she isn't gone from you. By writing this, she's not only living on through you, but you're sharing her with the rest of us. Thanks for that.


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