When I hear the word best friend it sends me into thoughts of my best friend from when I was a teenager. She and I were the worst of enemies up till 8th grade. She was conditioned to hate things that were different. I happened to take the brunt of her parent’s hate from kindergarten. I was the fat kid. See, my best friend’s parents were bullies. I knew that early on. But I tried to remember she was not her parents and after a while, her true spirit came out and we became best friends. To her parent’s horror, we soon became inseparable. In our town, people would just assume one of us was sick if we weren’t together. I can talk a lot about the trials and barriers that kept getting put up for us but I just really want to focus on what this friendship meant to me.
Growing up I didn’t really have a lot of “Great” friends. In fact, I can only really remember two. The two of which we grew apart around 4th grade. From 4th grade on I felt very lonely. I faced the world alone except for two months in the summer, when cousins and church camp made my life fun. I didn’t fit in well and I was always the odd man out. I can say I was the odd man out because I am comfortable with that now. It was not because I was so weird, it was the fact that I had a terrible secret to keep, religious rules to follow, sickness to tend with, and always the need to please everyone. I was so shy that it was painful. I didn’t like being called on in class, I didn’t like talking in crowds, and to avoid ever having to be in front of a lot of people any time I knew I’d have to be, I’d suddenly become sick. The only thing I can remember is my fourth-grade graduation, and my band concerts were the only times I was ever in front of big groups of people.
At the end of eighth grade, something happened to a mutual friend of mine and Amber’s. Amber was very upset and crying. I went up against a teacher for her so she could have more time to recover. That summer she would call me up and thank me. We made plans to talk more and that was where our friendship began. That first year was rough because her parents would rather her be friends with anybody than me. We were meant to be and survived all the parent’s advances to separate us.
Amber and I were the best of friends. I gave up on the idea that the boy I liked would like me and celebrated when they dated. When I was sick with a high fever but left at home to care for my nana, Amber risked being sick to just come and take care of my nana so I could rest. Through bad and good we were always right by each other’s side. We both lost people, we went through crushes, we survived really stupid adventures, we stayed friends no matter what her parents through at us, we experienced new religion by going to each other’s churches and the list goes on.
Amber and I were very differently raised, her family didn’t show physical love very often, and she had everything she could possibly want and normally only had to ask for it and it would appear. She wasn’t made to do any real chores, but her parents were hard on her when it came to grades. My family (nana and papaw) was loving and really carried about my friends and me. In fact, my entire extended family took amber in as part of the family. My mom and Amber had a bond that I didn’t quite understand and was very jealous over. I did not get name brands often. I didn’t get new clothes for the school year at all. This reminds me of how her mom would not just let her give me her old shoes so she would sneak me out of her old shoes. Even when the bottoms had holes, I cherished them because I had something the other kids wore now.
Amber and I were so different. She loved basketball, most sports really. I did not. She was a jeans and polo girl and I was a dress or T-shirt girl. She liked Horror and I loved romance. When we were friends I was the more outspoken /silly one, and she was the shy angry type. She liked the country and I liked Grunge and Rock. She was almost straight A’s and I was happy with C’s and D’s. I went barefoot, she had socks and Nikes. I changed my hair like I changed my underwear and she has had maybe three hairstyles her entire life.
With all the things we differed on there was just something that kept us friends. She went to college so far away (well at that time it seemed far). I pushed away my hate for her parents and rode all the way to Searcy, Arkansas to say farewell to Amber at college. Well as fate would have it, she didn’t stay long and she was back. Just in time to literally hold me up through my Nanas funeral. Those months right before and after losing my Nana were rough. Amber literally took care of me during those very cloudy days of alcoholism, when I could not shake the grief she stayed by my side, she would wake me up from my nightmares.
In the following years, we would live together and she endured me being sick, gaining up to 7—plus pounds, suicide attempts, misery, and then me going cold turkey and becoming sober, going to online school, losing weight, living through my grandpas decline and eventually death, saying goodbye when I met Mr. right who she tried to tell me was Mr. wrong. She kept my sweet loves that were my fur babies and loved them when I could not take them with me. She then traveled to my wedding and for the first time, I think got to see me standing on my own two feet, dependent on myself and living life.
Then life would change for Amber. She would achieve her dreams only to get knocked down by sickness, she lost her father and I wasn’t able to be there. Even writing that makes tears come to my eyes. Would it have made a difference if had I been there during those last days? Could I have made her grief less? Sometimes I blame myself for her pain still to this day over her dad’s passing. I pray one day soon she will be the Amber that loves life and is always ready for a new adventure.
Amber has a best friend now. Truth be told every time she called her best friend, best friend for those first few years I hated it. I felt left out and alone. However, that has never been the case. Our friendship has just evolved. She is my family. My family loved her like she was one of us. Somewhere along the line she and I become family and always will be. Yes, I still call her my best friend but she knows she’s so much more. I’m happy she has someone close to call a bestie. I think we all need someone close by who we totally bond with.
I know for me best friends will always be defined by this relationship. When I lived on Long Island, I had some of the best friendships I ever added to my life outside of Amber. I think though I put too much pressure on my friends. I wanted to be besties for life. I wanted the sisterhood of our group. They all were in my wedding, my Long Island friends. My long island Bestie Liz stood as my maid of Honor and I truly feel that was when we started drifting apart. I just expected too much out of a friendship with them all actually. None of those friends besides one really keep up with me. For the most part, they all have families, and lives that do not consist of me. I moved away.
Since being here in Mass. I have met some really awesome ladies but, covid happened and I no longer had choices of hanging out with people. For the last three years, I have been so alone. I depend too much on Jeremy for entertainment. If I did not have my internet besties and Amber only a call away, I don’t know what I’d do. Through all these changes and drifts in life, I have got to stop being sad over what friends or friendships I have lost or never had to begin with and allow the magic to come in through the relationships I do have. Not putting any ideas on them just allowing life to happen.
What do best friends mean to you? Do you have more than one? I’d love to hear how you have dealt with evolving relationships over the years.
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