She sat across the table from me and she said, “You’re not my friend anymore. You’re my family. You know? I feel like I could do almost anything to you and we’d still love each other.”
“Please don’t do anything to me,” I said.
“You know what I mean,” she said, “family is forever.”
Have you ever loved someone so much you want to bite into them so hard you break their skin? Like the way babies and kittens make you want to bite them; it’s not because you want to eat them necessarily, but just because it’s so insanely stupid how wonderful they are and you’re confused about what else you could possibly do to convey that.
She bit me once. We were at a party in Melbourne and it was late, or early, I never know which is which–it was late since we first started drinking but early in the morning. We were standing on a balcony and it was warm and everything was blurry. Somehow we were talking about how she’s Iranian and I’m Greek and her arm was around me.
“Let’s re-enact the battle of 300!” She screamed. Before I knew it she had bitten me HARD on the cheek. I cried out in pain and my hands shot to my face as she gave me a swift kick to the crotch, giggled, and ran away. I doubled over; the Iranian had won, and it didn’t matter so much because I loved her. And besides, I’d get her next time. You never can trust a Greek bearing gifts.
I loved her then, but I hadn’t even noticed when we’d passed from being friends to being family. Whatever had moved between us and around us in the measly four or five years since we met, it had made us, irrevocably, family. Indeed, when she came to visit me in my new home, New York, it felt weird to introduce her as “one of my best friends” to all my new friends; it felt cheap.
In her unique fashion, her visit was a complete surprise; one night, when I was still sweaty from the gym, she walked into the restaurant where I was having a casual dinner with some other girlfriends, and gave me a heart attack. She was too surreal to touch, but there she was. After almost two years apart all I wanted to do was wrap her ass-length hair around my waist and tie it in a thick knot so she could never escape again.
I went home that night and cried. “I miss you already” I wrote in a text to her, and I’d barely pressed send when my phone began vibrating, flashing with her name. I answered and we laughed; when she hung up I cried again.
Have you ever known someone that, after distance has kept you apart for an arbitrary amount of time, when you finally see each other, it’s like you were together all along? That’s what she is to me; she’s like slipping into sweats at the end of a long day.
There’s an innateness with my friend, my sister, and after the initial rush of seeing her face as flesh and not just pixels on a screen, I slipped into a easy serenity. Bizarrely, terrifyingly effortlessly, with her, I am my best self, my strongest self, my proudest, most worthy self. I am also: my most petty self, my most slovenly, bitchy, bratty self. I am all the things that I am as frankly and shamelessly as I can be them.
We talk about the dead skin on our nail beds or the great loves we’ve found across continents–Australia, Europe, North America–and the mundanities are just as thrilling as the adventures. When she’s around, it trivializes all the things that happen when she’s not. All the heartbreaks and disappointments and hysterical tears and empty wine bottles. All the betrayals and shitty friendships and bad relationships and underpaid jobs; it all becomes stupid and useless because I have her.
She’s my anchor. My perspective. My hindsight. She my comfort. My ease. The wind beneath my wings. Does she even know that she’s my hero?
If you ever hurt her I will kill you with my bare hands.
After we said our goodbyes, so a 24 hour flight could take her as far away from me as possible, to furthest corner of the planet, she sent me a text. “That didn’t feel like goodbye,” she said. She said she knew we would see eachother again soon. She’s my calmness. My peace of mind. My North Star when I’m lost in the dark.
And still; I can’t bear her leaving. It’s not that things are bad without her, just that things are less good. I can still smell her all over my pillows, and I’m just pretending that she’s not really going away, that I’ll see her tomorrow. Because if I can pretend that for long enough, soon it will really be tomorrow, and all the time in between will just seem like nonsense to our laughter.