They told me the hardest part of my twenties would be the low balance in my bank account. They told me the hardest part of my twenties would be the revolving door of men who either didn’t fit me or who took my heart, broke it, and left.
In fact, the hardest part of my twenties was the best friend I left behind.
When I look back, all I see are memories. Grass slopes we rolled down. Swings we elbowed younger kids out of the way to get, only to sit and confess crushes. Strangers toilets we got too intimate with as we puked out our guts on a Friday night. Tailgate parties we attended only by getting rides from the sketchiest boys in the neighborhood. So many horrifically cringey pictures where we decided to match outfits and hairstyles.
But then one day I went to grad school. She stayed home, met the love of her life, and got married. Of course, I was maid of honor. I skipped classes, blew off new friends, and flew back to make sure she had the day of her dreams. As the lights dimmed in the reception hall, we hugged for dear life and promised we would always keep in touch.
The next day, as she dipped her toes in the sands of Bali, I walked down a grimy United Airlines aisle, still holding my bouquet, and headed straight toward a life where it would never be the same.
I was there to take her first baby a few nights after she gave birth just so she could have a good night’s sleep. I’ve slept on her couch so many times. I’ll go to baby showers for her until the day I die. But from the day that I gave my maid of honor speech (definitely telling stories our Dad cringed to hear), asking her husband to take care of her, I was no longer her number one.
I got my law degree, moved, and started to learn how to live in a big city. Sometimes I was single, more often I was not. I made so many friends, travelled the world, and figured out how to make it. Every step of the way—every single date, every promotion, every new apartment—it was something she could not relate to. Every child she’s had, I cannot relate to.
We didn’t mean for it to be this way, but we eventually stopped being able to be friends. I couldn’t call her to tell her about a wild night I’d had in Mexico because she thought it irresponsible. She couldn’t call me to talk through gestational diabetes because I just didn’t know what to say.
My life became about fighting to be a woman in a man’s world. Her life became about being the best mother. Slowly we broke the promise we made on that grimy dance floor, our wedding shoes sticking to the hardwood floor, trying to hold down the last 22 years.
We lost touch.
I don’t know if she left me behind or if I left her behind. But I do know this. When I wake up tomorrow, she will not be my first call. When she wakes up tomorrow, I will not be her first call.
We were once. But now she has a husband and family, and I have a chaotic life filled with wonderful people.
That’s the hardest part of your twenties.