When I recently told a coworker that I was so excited because my best friend just told me she was pregnant, she exclaimed, “You have so many best friends.” I realized to an outsider, I might sound like the girl who cried best friend; I have several friends that I refer to as my best friends. At this stage of the game, at the wise-old age of thirty, I’ve accrued many best friends which to me, means that they are friends that I will have for life, regardless of circumstance. I have also come to learn that these friendships have changed over the years; they are like the stock market – stocks rise and fall, but I’m not selling. Full disclosure—I know very little about the stock market but I think that made sense, right?
When you are a child, the person you spend the most time with often becomes your best friend. There is a video of me at age five being interviewed by my mom about who my best friend is. I reply “Jamie!” And when she asks “Why?” I answer pointedly, “Because I like her ponytail.” While Jamie with the fabulous ponytail is not still a best friend, I do have other best friends who have been with me since I was wearing LA Lights and neon scrunchies, like my friend Allie. I found an old diary I got for my 10th birthday in which I wrote “Dear Diary, Allie called me and said she looked at a house on Fordham Road the street right near mine… I hope she moves! That would be so good for my best friend to live almost next store to me. I am so excited!” They didn’t get the house on Fordham Road, but 25 years later, Allie now lives down the hall from me in the same apartment building.
In middle school, popularity trumped real emotional connections. There were girls at that time that I referred to as my best friends mostly because they were considered cool. Being friends with them, I too got to feel cool (I am no longer friends with the two queen bees). But, I met amazing friends at this stage too, best friends who I had many a’sleepovers with and danced the electric slide at many a bar mitzvah. These friends moved on with me to high school, and I continue to call this group of six girls my best friends today.
Then, there was college. My first friend there—yes, my now best friend—Sam and I instantly connected over our matching necklaces, red cars and weirdly similar social security number (they are only off by two digits!). Sam and I met at a welcome weekend for students accepted to both the University of Maryland and George Washington University. By the end of the weekend we had decided we would be roommates. Then we just needed to decide which college to attend! We ended up at George Washington, where we found other girls throughout the years that we shared parties, study rooms spring break shenanigans and boy troubles.
After college, when I lived in New York, all of my best friends were living there as well. I was surrounded! Then, I made my big move to Los Angeles, now six years ago, and since then, I have felt the distance’s affect on my friendships. When I first moved I would feel sad that I no longer knew the intricacies of some of my friend’s day to day lives the way I used to. Or, that no longer was thee one they call first about certain things, because in truth, I can’t relate like some of their other friends could. It takes work to maintain so many friendships from a distance. The important thing about having best friends though is that I know none of this matters. The best friends I have are still and always will be my best friends. We may not speak everyday, but on the visits I do make back East, it’s like I never left. These girls all knew me when—and we all share a strong bond. When we’re together, inside jokes ten years old still make their way into the conversation. I’m not quite at 27 dresses, but I have been a bridesmaid for many of these best friends, and I was thrilled to be a part of their special days.
But, the the fact that they live in New York and are in a different stage of life as I am – them, mostly married and starting families, me, single and still trying to “make it” in LA– changes the playing field. In high school and college we were all on the same page. We had more in common. Now, our paths have diverged. The positive for me is that it has brought a few new best friends into my life—girls I have met in Los Angeles who are in a similar stage in their own lives as I am. I have new best friends that I am so fortunate to have met. Best friends who can commiserate on the woes of dating and networking in Hollywood. As Mindy Kaling once said, correctly, “Best friend isn’t a person, it’s a tier.”
Change is a guarantee in life, and in your 20s, big life changes occur. It is best to embrace them and roll with the new “status quo.” I value each friendship for what it was and what is now is. Friends come with different personalities and strengths, and by having so many, I can call (or Facetime or text, the benefits of living in 2016) each of them for different reasons. Some, I know will give the perfect pep talk. Others, will let me complain when I need a sounding board. And for my LA best friends, I can call them when I need a best friend now, in the flesh!
So if someone were to ask me “who is your best friend?” and I could only chose one, I couldn’t answer and I wouldn’t want to. I have my friend who is the best listener. The best advice giver. The best relationship-advice giver. And the list goes on. They say if you can count all your true friends on one hand, you are a lucky person. How lucky am I that I need both hands?
[Image via Warner Brothers]