Thursday, April 26, 2012
Friends In High Places
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.