My best friend and I reunited after years of not speaking, and it was complicated and beautiful
September 17th is National Women's Friendship Day.
I have definitely had my fair share of romantic breakups — but I've learned that the hardest breakups are the friend breakups. None of them have been more devastating than my breakup with my best friend.
I met C when we were 12 years old, outside of her locker at school. Another friend of ours, M, had introduced the two of us. In middle school, your friends are all supposed to be friends with each other — that's just how it goes.
It’s not always easy to remember exactly when you met someone, but I remember the moment I met C.
She was incredibly intimidating. She was mad about something, so she slammed her locker shut before acknowledging my presence. And though I remember that single moment, I don't remember when she went from "M's friend" to "my friend" to "my best friend" to "my sole life partner."
But that's what happened.
C and I really did absolutely everything together.
After spending my entire middle school career with her, I was tragically forced to move high schools. I had never in my life thrown as angsty a fit as I did when I had to switch schools. My frustration had nothing at all to do with the school itself. Mostly, I was upset to leave my friends, especially C.
We made it work, though.
We were still a couple of years away from driving age, and my family had a few quirks that made staying in touch difficult. I'm old, so this was before cell phones were a thing, and my family was extremely poor; a home phone was not one of the luxuries we were afforded.
At least once a week, I would walk down the street to the nearest pay phone and call C.
When I couldn't find a quarter, we would schedule a time via email for her to call the pay phone where I would be waiting. We would chat for an hour, sometimes more, until it got dark or until her parents wanted her to get off the damn phone.
When C started driving, our world expanded in a major way.
I had started working at a local movie theater, and though I wouldn't get my license until we were in college, we were so lucky C's parents were cool enough to let her come hang with me in my big city 20 minutes south of hers. She would meet me at the theater and we would watch movies for free. She knew all of my cool older work friends, and we developed respective crushes on some of them. We knew each other so well that even a glance could communicate what one of us was feeling. C and I would hang out at my house with my family, playing games with my brothers and their friends in the interim.
It was like there was no distance between us at all.
Senior year of high school rolled around and we decided — basically on a whim — to go to the same college. We both got in, we picked a dorm from a random list on a brochure, and we decided to room together. A lot of people told us that friends shouldn't live together since college was about meeting new people, but we didn't care. We already knew that we wanted to do everything together, even in our "more adult" lives.
We’d meet new people together.
And we did. Together, we met people we still love (like C's husband!) and people we definitely now hate (sorry, guys). We took some of the same classes, but ultimately landed on different majors. When we started to date — neither of us ever really had before — we started to run into the very normal issues that inseparable best friends run into. C started dating one of my co-workers, and knowing him, I thought it was a bad idea for her — but I handled it as immaturely as I possibly could have.
I know now that there are few reasons to ever get involved in someone else’s relationship. I know now that C did not need my insight.
Not only was I speaking from complete inexperience, but a lot of my reaction stemmed from my know-it-all attitude. Yes, I was correct in my belief that C was 1000000000 times better than that guy, but I was wrong for trying to stop her from having a learning experience I hadn't even gone through yet myself.
I angrily moved out of our dorm and we stopped talking.
A few months later, she and I got back together, slowly and cautiously.
Our lives had already become so different.
We graduated college, we made different life plans, we both dated people that the other didn't know well or at all. She moved out of state, I was unsupportive, she started dating her now-husband. I missed all of it.
C sent me a breakup email during those years.
Though my daily life was unaffected (we didn't speak much at that point anyway), my heart was legitimately more broken than it had ever been before.
She delivered harsh truths that I knew were accurate. I took it personally. It was hard not to.
We didn't talk for years. She got engaged, and I texted her. She responded happily. It made me feel better that I knew I could say hey from time to time. A couple of weeks before her wedding, she emailed me, letting me know it was weird to think about getting married without me there. That email meant so much to me — but it was too late for me to go. I was working a dead-end job and couldn't afford to fly out of state on a whim.
But my heart was there with her. Of course it was.
After her wedding, we started chatting from time to time. I had other friends in the same city where she lived, and when I'd visit them, I'd see her too. I spent the night, we had a few drinks, and I caught up with her and her new life. It was nice, but I couldn't imagine things between us ever being the same.
C has an adorable, nearly-2-year-old child. She lives less than an hour from me. She and her husband are so welcoming and fun to be around. We text almost every day. Her kid knows my face and lets me help her put on her shoes and carry her around the room.
C and I, in some ways, are better than ever.
She has never once judged me the way I had judged her. She is always the biggest open ear when I have my own relationship qualms. We remember our inside jokes, our favorite movies and music like they are still new to us. In fact, we just went to a Simple Plan reunion tour over Labor Day weekend.
No one in the world meant as much to me as C did when we were growing up, and because of that, even now, no one in the world means as much to me today.
Women are resilient.
For me, it's so important that people know that you can and will and definitely should bounce back from falling outs. I've had many, and I've bounced back from most of them. But this one — always — is the one that gives me hope. Love is love is love, even friendship love.
Especially friendship love.