Last month brought a little something called my 24th birthday — also known as millennial purgatory, that time when you aren’t quite old enough to rent a car and your peers continue to have babies and get married. So many panicked thoughts about the future filtered in and out of my consciousness on my birthday, and when it came time to blow out the candle on my free ice cream sundae from The Cheesecake Factory (judge me not), I couldn’t help but set my intentions for this year upon the altar of love.
Love: The four letter word that has been both the stuff of great poetry and the catalyst for erroneous Tinder swipes. Between you and me — and all of the internet — my goal for my 24th year of life is to give and receive love. I don’t just mean I’m going to hug my friends more often or stop shying away from affection; I want to live in a way that lets the universe know that — despite my knack for shitty online dates and my habit of trying to save every guy I meet — I’m ready to give my cynicism a rest. I want to let in all of the warm fuzzy feelings that the world will offer me.
But on the off-chance that the universe — or whichever goddess is in charge of making sure I’m not #foreveralone — has other plans, I’ve figured out an alternative.
I’m just going to marry my best friend. I figure there’s no better time to prep those wedding vows than in this moment, so here goes nothing…
Best Friend: You’re the only person who can take hours to respond to my texts without making me wonder if you’re on an OkCupid date with another woman or just ignoring me.
I’ve never had to ask you that uncomfortable “What are we?” question. I’ve never had to worry whether you would remain in my life.
I didn’t need to go on three dates or endure a 30 day-trial period to know that you wouldn’t throw me away. I mean, how many 13-year-olds promise to never stop being friends, right before splitting up to go to different high schools — and actually keep that promise? We did, because we have the souls of wise old women (probably our grandmothers’).
Thank you for making me feel like I was enough when the world told me I wasn’t. Hell, thank you for telling me I was enough when I told myself the opposite. Thank you for telling me that my lip gloss was poppin’ when Lil’ Mama dropped the anthem that celebrated our youth. (Thank you for supporting my pre-teen habit of going overboard with the roll-on lip gloss.)
Thank you for joining me on awkward trips to sex shops, and for expressing genuine interest when I geek out over orgasms and leather. Somehow, we managed to become two sex-positive women who learned what it means to reclaim ourselves.
Who knew that our constant use of AIM as kids would turn into endless iMessages as adults? Who knew that you would become an artist, and I would become an almost-free spirit who refuses to settle? We’ve never been the kind of people to dramatically, publicly declare our friend-love on social media, but those hours-long phone conversations are some of the few times in my life when I’ve felt truly heard.
You show up for me, like on my 21st birthday when I was broke. I never did figure out how you managed to pay for everything, because you were a broke college student, too. You showed up for me when my Manhattan grad school dreams lost their glimmer and anxiety was a regular occurrence. Thank you for never judging my choices, and thank you for making bad choices with me.
Turns out, all of my situationships were just helping me realize that the love I need has been here since I was a gawky preteen who didn’t know blue eyeshadow on brown skin requires expert blending.
Before I start blubbering, I’m just gonna end this spiel now. I love you, and I love us, and I love you for helping me love myself.
So yeah, if there ever comes a day when this whole ~husband thing~ doesn’t work out for me, these are the words I will have tucked away on 8×11 paper so I can declare my devotion.
In the meantime, maybe 24 is the perfect age to give and receive love — and if that love makes me feel even 50% of the way that my best friend does, then maybe I’ll start to believe in it again.