I'm on vacation, and I'm doing a lot of nothing, which is amazingly enjoyable. Currently, while my husband sits in the kitchen trying to pretend he isn't working, I'm watching an episode of Sex and the City - a show that strikes a chord for me, for my generation, and probably for women in general. I particularly love the different friendship dynamics among the four main characters. They mesh well as a whole, yet they're also believable as individuals and in their individual friendships.
It got me thinking about my friends.
I grew up in a small town, and I have friendships that have lasted since kindergarten. Particularly, with my best girlfriend. We met at five years old. Though I don't recall the specific circumstances of our initial "best friends" label, it might have been something as simple (yet profound to a five-year-old) as sharing a cookie.
Growing up, we shared homework assignments, inside jokes, and college visitations. If she weren't a good eight inches taller than me, we might've even shared clothes. When our lives took us to different states for college and beyond, we maintained a connection, albeit occasionally sporadic, that felt like home each time we made contact. She was at my side when I lay, clinging to life, in the Intensive Care Unit in my early twenties. She also flew out for an entire week when my daughter was born, doling out maternal secrets with the perfect balance of love and tact.
Having lived in four different states in the past decade, I haven't been able to cultivate long-term friendships, so I've been taking solace in old friendships, even those I'm guilty of neglecting from time to time. When I was home for my high school reunion, I was excited to get to spend some time - in person! - with my longtime bestie.
So I was literally stunned when, during lunch with a few high school girlfriends, I heard my original best friend refer to someone else as her current best friend.
If my first emotion was shock, my next and more pervasive emotion was guilt. I haven't cultivated this friendship as it deserves. I have taken this friendship for granted. Over the years, I haven't invested in this friendship nearly as much as she has. I was naive in thinking even though we live 3000 miles apart and lead increasingly different lives, that our friendship would remain pristine and uncompromised.
Back at the table, I felt myself flush and I begged a minute away via a trip to the restroom.
I don't blame her for finding a new best friend. I blame myself for not maintaining a relationship that was once (and perhaps remains) the most important friendship in my life. And partly, I don't blame anyone or anything. I know it's normal and natural for friendships to evolve, and even though our friendship may not be the same as it once was, it's still an incredibly special relationship to me.
I'm sitting here making a mental note to contact her and apologize for my neglect.
I'm also left feeling an odd void. If I no longer have a best friend, who do I have? I have friends, certainly, but I don't have that one girlfriend I go to each day for advice, commiseration, support and shared excitement. Instead, I have a circle of friends with whom I share different bits of myself. As time goes on and friendships lengthen, I'm sure some of these current friendships will become less compartmentalized and more broad, intimate.
I do have a army of women with whom I share virtually everything. The only problem? They're literally virtual - it's a small group of mothers who convene in an online forum. In a way, this is fantastic - ideal, even - since working around individual scheduling can put a damper on real world get-togethers, but the truth is, I long for a real-life someone whom I can call without a second thought when something happens that is good, bad, or otherwise.
I guess I wish I had a Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte - a small group of women as varied in their lifestyles as they are passionate about their friendships. I think the impetus is on me, here, as there are several women in my life right now with whom I can envision that sort of bond.
Maybe I need to start sharing more cookies...