I’ve had the same best friend since I was 13. 15 years, spanning early adolescence to our late twenties.
It feels like eight different lifetimes.
When we were freshman in high school we shut ourselves in my bedroom and recorded songs about imaginary homecoming dates on the karaoke feature of my stereo system.
When we were juniors, I held her hair back as she threw up peach flavored Boone’s and slurred through an apology about being so drunk. Later, she squeezed my hand in the seat next to me at my brother’s graduation from therapeutic boarding school.
When we were in college, we shared feminism, progressive politics and ten or twelve Oprah book club books. We became strong, assertive women.
When we grew up, we lived together, in my favorite apartment, on the tree-shaded corner of 16th and O, in midtown Sacramento. We wore spandex and danced up and down the hallways of our building. We watched all ten seasons of the original 90210
In the stages between, I dabbled as a lesbian and she had her heart broken by the man she thought she would marry. I cut my hair into a mohawk. She had adult braces. Together we transformed a summer camp and built a beautiful community of young people. We fought, we cried, we struggled, we grew, we triumphed. We laughed. So. Hard.
Life is change. In fifteen years, I’ve changed my hair, my politics, my career path, my diet, my fitness regiment, my spiritual beliefs, my taste in men, my values, my attitude, my goals, my dreams, probably five hundred times. Amy got all of it. “I feel you.” “That’s awesome.” “You should definitely drop out of law school and move to a mud hut in Bali, why not?”
I can’t think of anything more important in my life than having someone who gets me. Someone who shows up with affirmative and unconditional love in the face of every: bizarre decision, bad behavior, sexual misadventure, fear, sadness, loss, excitement, celebration.
A dear friend of mine is dying of cancer and I can’t stop crying about it. Last night I called Amy. I was hysterical and incoherent, rambling in fits of sniffles and sobs. On the other end of the phone she held the space. Heard my voice. Felt my pain. And got me. She understood every word, every feeling, every thing I was trying to express, spoken and unspoken. All of it. And as soon as I got off the phone, I took a deep breath in, a long exhale, and stopped crying. I felt safe. I felt understood.
I feel deep gratitude that my life is witnessed by someone who sees me as my fullest self. She reminds me that I’m perfectly awesome just being who I am, or changing, or whatever works for me. She’ll see me, love me and support me, no matter what.