I ended a relationship when my bestie got engaged—and it only made us tighter
After sipping on strawberry champagne and savoring the crocodile-shaped candy we found at the bottom of our glasses, my best friend Erin and I fell out onto the cobblestone street near La Crocodille and saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling. We were 21, studying abroad, and happy. I was reading Victorian novels at St. Andrews, a university in Scotland (yes, the one where Kate Middleton and Prince William met) and Erin was studying couture and photography in Paris. Most of my days were spent drinking dark beer near a castle and staring out at the misty North Sea while Erin hopped across the city speaking fluent French. For two magical weeks I slept on her tiny futon in Paris, where my go-to response was “Moi aussi” (me too) to anything Erin said in French. The only French I felt confident speaking there was, “Deux pain au chocolats, s’il vous plait,” (two chocolate croissants, please) which I said at least twice every day.
Erin and I have been besties since we were 12. We always compared ourselves to Anne and Diana from Anne of Green Gables, bosom buddies where one is tactful and lovely (Erin) and the other is dreamy and often says the wrong thing (me). We even made the pledge of eternal friendship Anne and Diana make in the book, just to prove we meant business.
A year later, Erin and I were in the bustle of our senior year of college, trying to grapple with the quickly upcoming post-grad realities. We were both in serious relationships, Erin with the sweet ginger-haired boy who would be her husband nine months later, and me with the same guy I’d been involved with since I was 16. Our carefree study abroad lives seemed far away.
Not long after graduation, my boyfriend admitted to having doubts about us. His admission turned the summer into a long season of sleepless nights. It was particularly difficult during the many weddings we attended in those months. At one, we walked down the aisle together as a bridesmaid and groomsman, and I suddenly realized he didn’t want to do that with me as a bride and groom. At that same wedding, Erin looked at my dark-circled, bleary eyes and said, “I really hate this for you, Lauren.” Without thinking, I whispered, “Me too,” and knew that she had just put words to what I didn’t want to admit to myself or anyone else.
After he finally broke up with me, confessing to a change in feelings and even physical attraction, I went off the rails. That night I called Erin sobbing in the cell waiting area of the airport as cars drove around me, pretending they couldn’t see the crying girl blaring Joni Mitchell in the car beside them. For the next several months after drinking cheap gin at parties, I would take my roommate aside and whisper, “Am I pretty? Do I look okay? Am I pretty? Do I look okay?”
That same month Erin and her longtime boyfriend Phillip got engaged. I was genuinely happy and excited to help plan the wedding, but I found myself thinking about how often my ex-boyfriend and I had talked about how much fun that wedding day would be. And how he would be there together.
Over the next few months, conversations with Erin averaged two hours long, and jumped from me crying over an old love letter I had found, to both of us going into intricate detail about the pins we had chosen for our secret Pinterest wedding board. When my mom whispered, “This must be so hard for you” at all the showers and wedding events, I just smiled and thought about Erin answering my crazy post-30 Rock marathon texts at 2 am. “Not really,” I answered, and surprised myself with just how true that statement was.
During the weekend of Erin’s wedding, I was waiting to hear back from editorial position at a publishing company in New York that I desperately wanted. Erin patiently listened to me talk about this job while we got our nails done and encouraged me to take phone calls during bridal luncheons. The day of Erin’s rehearsal dinner, I finally got a call from the New York office: “Can you come in for a face-to-face interview on Monday?”
“Yes!” I said, without even taking a breath. That afternoon I booked a ticket to fly to New York the day after Erin’s wedding. At the rehearsal dinner that night, in my toast I forced her now husband to hold my hand and make the same pledge of friendship from Anne of Green Gables that Erin and I had made ten years before.
Turning off my phone and basking in Erin’s happy glow the next morning, I put on an Instagram-worthy floral kimono and kept crying off my makeup, remembering us as awkward middle schoolers sporting gauchos and discussing the disturbed Justin Timberlake-looking-poets we would, of course, one day marry. In so many ways, that day we were both moving on. And when I saw my ex-boyfriend for the first time, after four months, at the reception, I smiled and asked how he was doing. Erin spied me from across the room, and swooped in as her trail of admirers followed, crooked my head in her arm saying loudly, “Let’s go dance!!” Then she whispered, “Are you okay?” as we walked away. Taking a deep breath, I nodded and we danced to Beyoncé the rest of the night.
Today is my four month New York-versary and Erin has been married for five months now. We can’t say “moi aussi” to each other the way we could during that time in our lives where our biggest concern was what museum to hit up or which cocktail to splurge on. And that’s okay. Both of our lives are bustling and upbeat and in that crazy “are we adults yet?” time. We’ll always have Paris, but more importantly we’ll always have that friendship pledge to go back to when we need to hear someone say, “Me too.”
[Image via Universal Pictures’ Bridesmaids]