When I bring it up, which I often do, one of them will always say the same thing: “Something in the cosmos just shifts when the three of us are together.”
That’s one way of describing it — “it” being the phenomenon that occurs when I’m with my two closest friends. When we join forces, I’m both my worst and my best self: I’m never more self-aware, self-confident or self-destructive. I also never have more fun than when I’m with the two of them. They’re my partners in crime.
To be upfront, I’m no piece of cake. Anyone can tell you that. I’m pretty quick and can make just about anyone laugh, but I’m stubborn and I like things how I like them. I also move fast and take absolutely no prisoners. Call me a product of only child syndrome (as I am the lone survivor of my parents’ children), or of a background that suggests if you aren’t moving upward, you’re moving backward (my parents came from nothing and I from a cushy lifestyle that I must atone for with completely independent personal success).
But, despite what my two best friends call my “alpha personality,” they put up with me. Self-nicknamed “beta” and “gamma,” respectively, They understand and even appreciate my sometimes overbearing nature. I always ride shotgun, no questions asked. I’m the one who makes the big decisions.
I appreciate their personalities, too. I genuinely enjoy them. One can tell a story better than anyone else I’ve ever met and the other’s dry sense of humor is a never-ending source of entertainment. We can be talking about the most inconsequential thing and it’ll seem like nothing could ever be funnier. They’re also smart in ways you might not expect. One knows New York City like the back of her hand and can keep up with her older brothers in all respects, which is something I’ve always admired. She stays true to herself. The other’s academic prowess has always impressed me: she can read Ancient Greek. She also never fails to give great advice and is always honest, something I respect with all my being.
We met my freshman year of college. One was my roommate, and the other had gone to high school with her. Fate threw us together one night when the two of them came back to the room to find me crying with my pants down to my ankles. The source of my tears? A rotten banana I found in my field hockey bag that smelled worse than anything I’d ever encountered in my entire life. As for the pants, I was so freaked out by the situation at hand that I started sweating and had to drop my sweatpants to the ground to cool myself down. They both came to my rescue, no questions asked. The rest, as they say, was history.
Throwing caution to the wind, I let go of my fantasy of being best friends forever with the girls on my college field hockey team and turned to something that felt more natural—hanging out with the two girls who later became my best friends. Their friendship came easily to me.
Additionally, they’ve put up with me at my worst and I’ve put up with them at theirs. That’s not something you can say about just anybody and I don’t take that for granted.
When I transferred after our first year to a school three-and-a-half hours away, I did it for my own personal happiness’ sake. It was something I had to do after a year of feeling not quite comfortable in my own skin. I knew if I had decided to come back it’d be okay because I’d have my best friends by my side, but if I was being honest to myself, I wasn’t truly happy at my old school. I wasn’t a hardcore enough field hockey player to stick it out for four years and I wasn’t being challenged enough academically to feel I could be proud of my degree down the line. Despite the strong bonds I’d formed with them, I never felt fulfilled. The school we went to just wasn’t the right fit for me and I had a gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that would have never let me forget it.
I have loved my new school since day one but there’s always been a tiny piece that’s been missing, and I know it’s the two of them. I love my new friends and my colleagues at my college’s student newspaper. I’ve enjoyed all my classes—even if they weren’t really all that great, they took place at a school that I’d come to truly love. When I went back to my old school to visit them and all the times they came to visit me, we had an amazing ride, just like old times. Our time together, just as it had always been, was blurry and hazy and as roof-raising as ever. We always spend the day after each night out reminiscing and cracking up like kids high on laughing gas after a trip to the dentist (or stoned losers laughing about the guys we’d met, their sad one-liners and our bitchy comebacks).
You know you’re in good company when you can not feel grossed out after all three of you make out with the same guy outside a bar. You know you’re in the best company when nobody judges you after you meet up with a guy who you always swore you didn’t like in downtown Manhattan at 1:30 a.m. and have to slink back to your friend’s parents’ apartment three hours later.
While I’ve always been someone that needs alone time, there is a very important part of me that is always begging for company. Maybe that is a product of my only child lifestyle as well — maybe I’m always looking for someone to fill a void that I’ve had within me my whole life. My brother, who passed away when I was seven, was, if only for a brief time, a constant — someone I thought I’d have by my side until the day I died. I am sure that to have that taken away from me, especially at such a young age, has affected me more than I will ever truly understand. To have friends that I met so late in life that have always remained so loyal to me has meant more to me than anything else — especially friends I so enjoy spending time with. No triumph or piece of success could ever trump that.