What adult long-term friendship is really like

Practically every morning your best friend will call you up from San Diego on her drive to work. Sometimes one of you will not get one word in for the entire conversation, and sometimes one of you is waiting on a very long line at Trader Joe’s and the other one reminds you to buy a cinnamon broom. When she lived in New York and you were both single you had a sleepover every weekend night and breakfast together every weekend morning, and at her wedding, while you and your husband are sobbing during her father-daughter dance, she and her dad will look over at you at the same time and cackle. You will gulp down these phone calls like oxygen between visits during which she will like to watch you do things like make lunch for your kid so that for a long weekend you can pretend this is your regular life.

You will live for years in an illegal duplex in Alphabet City with a pair of sisters that you love. When they move to Houston, Texas you’ll have to figure out how to express adequate grief over the phone when their dad dies. Turns out, reminding them that his pulled pork recipe was the most delicious you’ve ever tasted actually is a helpful thing to say.

Some of you will have babies. A good friend in Ohio will have two kids who you’ve never met. This is the biggest injustice of all. The most exhilarating moment of a destination wedding will be watching your oldest friend who now lives in London whip her nipple out in public like a pro to feed her baby on a bench. You will have cried the most joyful sobs over a transatlantic FaceTime call when she finds out she is pregnant with him.

You will all have wildly sustaining group texts about rashes and sleeping and gratifyingly unflattering photos of ex-boyfriends found on Facebook. You’ll have FaceTime and Google Chat. You’ll send out questions in the morning that get answered in the middle of the night after someone is finished putting their toddler back to bed in his own room.

You’ll be lonely sometimes. When you’re a brand-new mom, staring at the random tufts of hair on the back of your newborn’s head and having that same heartbreaking feeling as watching an old man eat cottage cheese out of a cantaloupe by himself in a diner, it will be just you and those hormones.

Its a pretty common refrain to feel like you and your friends are responsible for making sure you made it out of your twenties alive, but you won’t realize that you need each other even more now, when you suddenly have kids and you’re making choices for them when it feels like you’re barely mature enough to go grocery shopping. You are in your thirties and you’ll know better, but you won’t know yet and you may never fully know.

You’d promised each other you’d live in the same place and raise your kids together but the reality is when you grow up, the group of you rents a house together once a year and you sit around for days validating the everliving shit out of one another and cry-laughing. Within a few hours everyone becomes topless around the pool. You’re now figuratively and literally exposing yourselves. You cancel all the dinner reservations so you never have to leave what you’ve all started referring to as The Compound. You’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to replicate over a 72-hour period what used to be your regular life and you don’t regret a dime of it.

Luckily, at least yearly, there will be a wedding celebration or bachelorette trip in your group that requires that you reconnect in person again. Keep it up even once you’ve passed the milestones. You’ll never regret it. And brace yourself. It will become a direct relationship: the level of restoration you feel from the reunion is directly related to how bereft you are when they leave you. When you look ahead sixty years into the future (god willing), you think about how you’ll look back at your life and you already know that one of your biggest regrets will have been not finding a way to live in the same town again, other than trying to know your mom and dad better.

You’ll definitely make new, wonderful, incredible friends who you didn’t come of age with. Your life will build out in an ever-confusing, widening web, or like molecules in a chemical compound. You and your pack are at the center and all around you are other centers, still: you and your partner, you and your kids, and then your parents, your partner’s parents. Your new friends. Your friends’ new friends. And this is true of every single one of you.

You and a friend of yours who is more like a sister will head down different paths. You’ll share identical feather tattoos and an easy, unconditional love that you’ll fear could one day become conditional. It will shock you that for the seven years she lives in Hawaii you won’t be able to visit her. But you’ll move forward, you’ll do the work. Sometimes you won’t see one another once in a calendar year but when you’ll talk you won’t leave anything out, which is the secret.

Consider in earnest ending up in the same place as your friends. Make a move together before your web grows too large. If it’s not possible, but you make a powerful effort to be in meaningful touch, when you all do get together there will be a tearful late night exclamation that is always the same: it’s like no time has passed at all.

(Image via IFC Films)

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