How I became best friends with my opposite
We’re kicking off the release of our first HelloGiggles book, A Tale of Two Besties, with an epic celebration of friendship and stories about friendship. Read an excerpt of the book, buy a copy, catch us on our cross-country book tour, and share your photos from our events by tagging us @hellogiggles #ATaleofTwoBesties.
My friend Maylin carefully lines the gingerbread with icing, connecting pastry pieces together to form a house. It’s a home of white picket fence dreams, just like on the kit box. Gumdrops are perfectly placed, designs on the roof meticulously stenciled so that each shingle fits a proportional mold.
Meanwhile, my house looks like it’s been caught in the snowpocalypse. Icing floods over the sides, and artistic license morphs into a chaotic conglomeration of candies atop a collapsing gingerbread den. We laugh and say it’s Gaudí-esque, like Park Güell in Barcelona.
Each year, my best friend and I get together over the holidays to make gingerbread houses. It’s become a tradition that we both genuinely enjoy, and the anticipation climbs as December rolls around and we’re trapped by the chains of college finals. Stress mounts until we take an exam or turn in a paper and we’re finally free to fly home, hide in my family’s kitchen, and make confectionary dream worlds. Hers almost always merits awe, like the acclaimed gingerbread houses for sale in Manhattan, while mine should be eaten as soon as possible to avoid its devolution into a tacky Christmas decoration that takes away from my mother’s tasteful winter ambiance.
Our gingerbread houses mirror our personalities. Maylin is the epitome of togetherness, her plans always resolute and well devised. I am… not. I often running to my next destination with reckless abandon, a rip in my tights, and some kind of clumsy tumble on the horizon. It’s fair to say that Maylin and I are opposites, but opposites attract, even in friendships.
We met as toddlers. She was an expert swimmer, I an expert waft-er through water. Our paths inevitably intersected. We were the best of frenemies, our huge personalities contradicting one another whenever given the opportunity. We would go to the park and argue about the movie we were making, “I Lost My Flipper In Las Vegas,” as my father aimlessly followed us with a camera. We would compete for the top honors at Chinese School and fight over parts for our self-produced “Nutcracker” ballet, where we both wanted to perform the Sugar Plum Fairy variation. She would come over to my house to cuddle with my dog until she got her own of the same breed, and we would steal each other’s birthday party ideas to see who could host a better bash. In all honesty, we were brats, but we were brats together. Some might say it was a bonding experience, others pure annoyance for our poor parents.
Then came adolescence, and a roller coaster of emotions with it. We both felt pain for the first time, I when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, she when her grandmother passed away. Our petty quarrels abated, and, we learned what it meant to support another human being.
Now, we’ve lived apart for almost six years, but whenever we step into the same room, it’s like no time has passed. We’re still opposites and still have our own versions of huge personalities. But our distinctions are what make us the ideal adventure buddies: we push each other toward new experiences. She watches the Food Network and recommends a delicious donut café. I once stumbled upon this great little Italian restaurant, and we must find it again. Sometimes, I have to goad her to ignore Yelp and take a leap of faith, but it all works out eventually.
And there’s our discourse. We rarely completely agree on a subject, but we’ve figured out how to respect one another’s point of view and keep cool as long as there’s chocolate involved. We each bring a unique bent to the table, which allows us to engage in a fruitful conversation and become well-rounded, well-informed individuals.
Yes, sometimes it can be hard when we don’t see eye-to-eye (though these days, we’ve developed a sort of telepathy that makes things a lot easier). But we’re able to withstand momentary lapses in concurrence because of one beautiful truth: we care about each another. At the end of the day, that’s all a best friend is — someone who will be there for you when the sun shines or the rain pours. If you’re like me and your best friend challenges you to broaden your realm of possibility, then that’s just an added bonus, the icing on the cake (or gingerbread house).