A little less than a year ago, I moved out of the apartment I shared with my best friend.
This wasn’t the first time we’d lived apart – we’d both done brief stints abroad, short-term leases with significant others and a smattering of alternate living arrangements that forced us to make late-night Skype calls outside night clubs or inside parked vehicles in winter. We’d survived the first seventeen years of our lives without knowing each other and by the time we hit our mid-twenties, it seemed as though parting ways was simply in our cards.
After all, she had community ties on the West Coast. And I had a brand new job offer on the East. It simply made sense for us to start doing things separately – we were both full-grown adults with full-time jobs and salaries. It’s not as though we couldn’t handle life alone.
But no matter how adult-like you feel, there is a certain desperate sense of finality to the day that you part ways with your best friend – knowing that you probably won’t find your way back to each other.
Of course you know you’re going to keep in touch. There’ll be tearful long-distance phone calls and impulse plane tickets purchased. There’ll be reunions that you plan and count down to and there will be impromptu visits that you don’t. Your friendship won’t die out over the strain of long distance. And yet something important ends that day.
After all, what kind of life is worth living when you don’t have your best friend by your side?
Who do you call up at the end of a long, shitty day to order Thai food and lament over your problems to? Who do you stumble back home with from the dance club when you’re drunk at 3am and really much too old for all of this shit? Who do you go to when your heart breaks or your will cracks or you fuck things up in a way that simply cannot be fixed without the care and compassion of the one person who knows you best in the world?
How are you supposed to tackle life as an adult without your best friend by your side?
I’m inclined to argue that there are a lot of scary moments in your twenties. There are breakups and health scares and job losses and blows that you do not see coming. There is a lot we have to transition and struggle through.
Because no matter how well you keep in touch, no matter how close-knit you remain, it will never again be quite the same as it was.
The era of you-and-them has ended. There’s no more all-nighters when one of you is going through a crisis. There’s no more long, rambling walks that lead you astray both physically and conversationally. There’s no more wordless days spent lounging in pyjamas where you don’t need to talk to enjoy time spent alone with each other.
The day you move away from your best friend is the day the greatest love affair of your young life truly ends.
And yet maybe that doesn’t have to be a sad thing.
Because the thing about having a best friend when you’re young and growing into yourself is that it’s a blessing not everyone gets.
Not everyone meets that one person who just gets them. Not everyone grows up with an unquestioning teammate by their side. Not everyone truly experiences the strength and intimacy and intensity of having a best friend who feels more like a brother or sister. Who feels more like an extension of yourself.
And so on the day that you have to move away from your best friend for what seems like the final time, take a moment to appreciate having had them.
Take a moment to appreciate the fact that out of all the transitions you’ve had to face and challenges you’ve had to overcome in the past however-many-years you’ve known them, you were lucky enough to have had someone by your side for every single one of them.
Instead of lamenting over the end of an era, be grateful that you had it at all. Be grateful for the memories that nobody can ever take away from you.
And be grateful that you found the kind of friend who makes parting ways so damn difficult at all.