Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Friends

When I was a child, the concept of having a best friend was so important. One. single. Best friend. When mine and I grew apart in 8th grade, it was troubling, heartbreaking, and ultimately, not permanent. We loved each other as small girls, and re-met and loved each other again as adults - no longer best friends, but soulmates nonetheless.

Now, at the ripe old age of 58, I find myself with 3 best friends, two of whom I have known and grown with for over 35 years and one, surprisingly, a woman I met barely two years ago. (Clearly there is a correlation between the end of my marriage and the establishment of a new close friendships.) How lucky does a person get? And how is this possible without jealousy?

I have come to think of it similarly to how I faced the question, after having one child, whether I could ever love another child as much. Would it be fair to the second one? Boy, was that ignorant thinking, because I rapidly learned after my second child was born that the human capacity is not finite, that the heart expands and greets someone new with as much love for another child as for the first, and that experiencing love with two children was clearly a case of 1+1 = way more than 2.

And so it is the same way with my three best friends. I know I have very different conversations and relationships with each while I also know that I am deeply sharing with, supporting, having fun with, am delighted by, can cry with and laugh with, and am cared for by all. We each have others' backs unconditionally.

I've spoken to a couple of men about this recently, both of whom professed envy for the bonds which form among women while scratching their heads in wonderment. I ruined a couple of friendships, one permanently, one temporarily, after I was first married, as I didn't know how to balance the closeness of my women friendships with the closeness with my new husband. As I now hope and think about the possibility of someday being in another long-term relationship, I know I will never sacrifice my relationships with my best friends - and that I don't have to. This heart has room for more!

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