Growing up, I tended to gravitate toward making friends more easily with boys than I did with girls. I didn’t NOT get along with girls or anything. I just felt more at ease around boys. I can speculate about why, but I don’t really know why except that I just ‘felt’ calmer and less negatively judged around them.
Until early 2017, while I have just as many women I’d list as my friend in my life as I do men, the best friend I ever had (other than J, obviously, who is without a doubt the best friend I ever had) was a guy. And he’s still one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Honestly, other than J, until a couple of years ago, he’s probably the ONLY person I’ve ever felt truly at ease with, alone or accompanying me in a group, or being my company in a big crowd somewhere. He’ll always be a treasured person in my life for this reason. Ease like that for me is exceedingly rare. Not only feeling safe enough for my anxiety to quiet…being alone or out, if he is with me, similar to J, constant thoughts about what can go wrong in the environment around us don’t drown out our own experience and conversation…but feeling safe WITH HIM…that I could be my whole, unfiltered self and he wouldn’t run…that I was confident enough that he wanted to be around me and hear what I had to say. That’s…both super scarce and priceless.
Even with my best women friends, I still feel self conscious about my appearance, the appearance of my house or car, my femininity, and I have some kind of performance anxiety…am I talking too much? Am I not saying enough? Is there something on my face? Are my clothes wrinkled? Does my hair look crazy? Did I say the wrong thing? Am I walking too close to her? Am I not walking close enough to her? What if I have to use the restroom and she doesn’t? What if when I get there, they’re out of paper towels? What if she wants to get something to eat and I eat too much? Or take too long to finish eating? Or…or…or…or…what if…what if…what if…
D and I were close friends when we were young, where school ensured that we saw each other practically daily, and there was no text or email, so we talked to each other on the phone pretty much every day we didn’t see each other (and most days even when we did…D is the reason my family got call waiting). And then we left for college. And the leaving was awful. For me, anyway. He never let on that it was hard on him at the time, but now that we’ve gotten older, he went through a lot of pretty rough shit alone away at school and never told me about it until years after it was over…probably at least partly because he didn’t want me to worry, being far away. Leaving my best friend is still one of the most painful emotional experiences I can recall (and I can remember a LOT of stuff).
And then in 2017 I met A. Online. Sort of the same way I met J, actually.
We became close on text. Our friendship is still (unfortunately?) mostly writing back and forth. But in my soul? A’s my best friend. I’ve spent some (limited) time with her now, not only in intimate writing back and forth, sharing everything, without fear of judgment, but in person…alone and with J and The Boy and in a big crowd (at Disneyland…crowds don’t get much bigger). And I have the same ease with her that I had with D, fostering a friendship where I got to be in his physical presence a lot and hear his voice a lot. With A, adult life and distance keep that from happening. It would be really time consuming and expensive for us to spend a lot of time together…which sucks. Because even after only a few hours spent with her…leaving that ease was really hard. She’s far away. I know she’s hurting sometimes and I can’t be with her to comfort her and just like D when we were in college…sometimes she feels like she can’t (or shouldn’t) tell me things she’s going through because she doesn’t want me to worry.
But I mean…to A AND D…I worry anyway. I always care what’s happening to you, good or bad, when you’re far away from me. I want you to share it if you want to tell me. I’ll always want to see you and talk to you whenever I can and I’ll always think leaving you is the worst. I’m so glad I never have to leave J. (I highly recommend MARRYING your best friend, because then you get that ease and you never have to leave it). It’s often very hard for me to maintain kinship with people I care about, but I promise I will not let go of that thread connecting me to you, even on the blusteriest of days.