While discussing new apartment logistics vis-a-vis the new queen bed, my best friend snorted when I told her, as always, my bed had to be, had to be, had to be located in one of the corners of my room, preferably across the room from the door. "Yeah," Nora replied, "because you always have to sleep pressed up against the wall and curled up in the fetal position. A queen bed is totally wasted on you." What does it say that my friend knows me so well that she can say this completely matter-of-factly, and yet, I have ex-boyfriends and ex-S.O's who I have either spent a fair share of nights and beds with or lived with part-time who would be hard-pressed to tell you this about me in the same way that it is so obvious to my best friend? Nora knows how, exactly, I like to eat my salads, and in fact, puts to test the whole friends-as-soulmates thing with the fact that she eats the light greens, while I only eat the dark. Watching us eat salad is like watching the Cleaver parents share a meal-- she moves her dark green leaves over to me, I fork out my light pieces and stalks to her, a flawlessly enacted Ballet of The Greenery over the dinner table. She has been known to perfectly time lighting as I inhale, knows how I take my coffee, what weather is my favorite, and 101 other little quirks about how I prefer life. It's the little things that she picks up on that mean the most.
As if getting hit with this stunning realization wasn't enough, Nora's mother then walked in and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Look at you with the long hair!" Granted, this is a woman who assured me during my high school bob-cut phase that I was beautiful no matter what, but sometimes, it's the things like noticing a new hairstyle that women really want to be recognized for and complimented on. It's so cliche, but so true. If you don't want to be quite so trite, instead of just saying, "I like your hair," or "Hey, did you get your hair cut? It looks nice," why don't you try making it more personal and saying something like, "I really like your new haircut because it brings our your eyes" or "I love being able to put my hands through your long hair." Give us a specific reason why you notice it or like it. No one is cookie-cutter-- well, no one outside of Stepford or Connecticut. (I joke, I joke...)
My friend Caiti has known me longer than probably anyone except my immediate family. We met in kindergarten over a set of stilts, and have been friends since. Because we have watched each other go through so many year's worth of styles, from bowl-cuts to braces, from pig-tails to driver's permits, from clogs to stilettos, one of our favorite things to do together is bargain-shop. (Or, in Caiti's case, be reasonable while I drop money like a Rockefeller on an unemployed college student's salary.) On our latest installment of Clarendon Chicks vs. T.J Maxx, she watched me as I cooed over a chain-handled black leather purse. "Your style has changed," she told me, absolutely no judgement in her voice. And just as quickly as it used to take her to dig me out the All-American styles that I used to love (but hello, Ralph Lauren, you are still loved), she was offering up new things to suit my bella-Italia leanings. Despite our 17 year relationship (which is BY FAR my longest), Caiti is as flexible with my mercurial changes as a girl could ever ask for. As I am pattern-perfect Gemini who has a hard time remaining the same person from day to day in the first place, Caiti is unflappable and loyal enough to teach men a lesson: although the look and the years might change, the girl inside is still pretty much the same. You can cut or grow hair, change the wrappings and the address, but what attracts you to a person in the first place is still going to be there.
My roommate-come-travel buddy-come-football watching partner-come-personal chef Alli is like my personal bomb-squad between me and the rest of the world, alternately defusing or detonating. When a guy I was seeing fucked up, I had to send her daily email reminders to please not fire off any missives (or missiles) of her own while we worked it out for ourselves. "Mama Lion" was not quite so pleased, but after reassuring her that her Doberman status had not been totally choke-chained, she settled in for quietly resuming to have my back better than anyone else. Maybe it's because we've lived together long enough to finish each other's sentences or know exactly what the other is thinking at a moment, but quicker than anyone, Alli can tell you why I'm angry, what made me upset, and how to make up for it almost faster than I know the answers to those questions myself. Not much of a used asset for men, a girl's confidants like Alli are immeasurable treasure-troves of information of everything from her favorite flower to requested diamond size to why your girlfriend is mad at you, so it would behoove a guy to play nice with her.
When I went back up to Burlington for the first time in 4 months, I was shocked about how warm the reception was in some cases, even though I was technically 2 days late getting there due to the mishap in Zurich. Just as going away for awhile makes you appreciate home more, I think it can also make you appreciate your friendships more and the people in your life. Old coworkers stopped working to chat for 10 or 15 minutes. Friends' boyfriends came to dinner to say hey and welcome me back. I spent hours and multiple meetings in one afternoon and evening catching up with friends who although I would have assumed had had enough of me via Facebook and Skype and international phone calls while I was gone, wanted to spend even more time with me now that I was back in person. I was shocked when friends called me to see what I was up to, if I was bored or just wandering around, or wanted to meet up with them instead of further slogging through the fruitless job market self-prostituting. "Hey, what are you doing?" "Where are you staying?" "The apartment's small, but I've got some floor for you if you need it." "Come over any time!" "Why don't you stay another day?" "Do you want to grab something to eat?" "Why don't we met up again after your dinner?" "Hey, where are you?" "Let me know when you come back next week." Not only did they meet up with me all across Burlington, but they even helped me knock down a few of my must-eats off my American Food I Have Been Yearning For list, and, as we know, like a good man, one of the quickest ways to my heart is through my stomach. I got nearly teary when, down by the dog park, a young couple stopped my friend and I to ask for a light. As I forked over my lighter and he lit his jay while I held his half-mastiff dog, he looked at us and held up the hemp-wrapped joint now merrily burning. "Hey, you want a hit?" And right then was when I knew I was back in Burlington and that this was all real.
The Sex and the City writers once infamously wrote the line, "Maybe our friends are our soulmates and guys are just people we have fun with." While I might argue that it may not always be fun and games with guys, I will agree that our friends are the ones who will always be there, despite now being spread across the country, or, in some cases, the world. Whether they're someone you've had in your life for years or someone you've seen three times since meeting three months ago, there's no denying it-- your friends are your chosen family and your chosen companions. And the best part is, you know they're not just in it for the sex.