I’ve had my fair share of relationships. I’ve dated since I was sixteen, pretty regularly and without intention to stop. I enjoy the rush of a new lover—the sweet texts and anticipatory phone calls and expectations that come with finding a man who I click with. I’ve been married, once, and that brought me pleasure, at least before it brought me pain. To my core, I am a straight female, endlessly doomed to search for a match that fits. But somewhere inside me—the central part—the love of my life will always be my best friend.
She’s a girl. Has fiery red hair and freckled skin. Throws her head back when she laughs at something funny. Unashamedly unwraps candy I have lying around my apartment. She puts up with my incessant degradation of myself and will listen to the worst of my woes without judgment or surprise. She understands me on a level that I honestly wish a man never will, because what we share is ours. This world we’ve created for ourselves, it’s the product of true love. Never assuming. Never relenting. Only promising that tomorrow is still ours to have.
I met her in college. Friend of a friend, we somehow landed ourselves on her dorm room bed, talking until 2 in the morning about nonsense and depth, and finding ourselves in the words we spoke. She was safe. Comfortable. The kind of reliable you only find in family—the people who, by association, can’t leave you.
We solidified our relationship after a night spent eating too much candy, pinky promising each other we’d wake up early the next morning to run by the lake. And we did. Silently running beside each other, neither of us anticipated this would be the moment the greatest love of our lives became real. No longer was the face blurred and romanticized, but instead it was in front of us. After that morning, I never wanted to leave her side. I never wanted for us to stopping telling the stories of where we were from or who we had hurt; what we had done to harm ourselves or how we wanted to become famous in our own right. It was if in one moment I saw the potential of a thousand years staring at me, telling me to come clean—a thing I could never do, except with her.
I drove her everywhere, given she didn’t have her license until the age of 23. But those drives were so precious and rare, as if the entire world was sitting next to me, but in one girl. Stupid college students, we’d take shots of vodka with diluted Coke and drive around our small town. We’d tell the hard stories, the ones that no one wants to hear. We’d tell the truth until it no longer hurt, but set us free. Sitting on a damp sidewalk curb outside my building, we confessed our love and laughed at how we would never fully understand how life could have been before we had found one another. As if we always the other was coming, and we had only been waiting.
I got married soon after. I was always sorely disappointed that the man in my life never sought to know this girl that was so deeply ingrained in me. Maybe that’s what closed me off to our relationship—not understanding how someone who had made me come alive could be overlooked by someone who wanted to one day birth a child with me who I would gladly name after my friend. The indifference that my husband took towards my best friend was worrisome and raw. It hurt me that he couldn’t understand that what I had with her was paramount to anything I would have with any man from there on out.
The marriage ended, but the friendship remained. She was the one I talked to. The one I told the truth to. She was the one who faithfully sat and watched me nearly kill myself over sadness of loss and self-doubt. She was the one who reassured me that it would be okay, that her presence in my life alone would absolve any pain I could ever feel.
I can’t explain why platonic female relationships are so vital in our lives as women, but I know that there is a bond between us that can’t be matched by any man. I’m crazy about men. I think they’re wonderful and weird and an integrated part of my life that will be never be erased. But no text, no sex, and no heterosexual relationship will ever amount to the feeling of her messaging me during a busy workday, simply saying, “I really need to talk to you.”