I’ve never had a best friend.
I’m not saying that so you’ll feel sorry for me. It’s just a realization that I’ve had over and over and over again in my life.
When you’re young, you usually have a friend. One little girl that always comes over. You spend the night at each other’s houses. You swear to each other that boys are yucky and that the two of you will grow up to marry one another.
And then one of you moves away.
For me, it was my friend Becky. We lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same kindergarten. We played with each other constantly and my parents became good friends with her parents. We were going to be best friends for life.
Becky and her family moved to another part of the state and before I knew it, we did too. The exact same model of their house in the exact same neighborhood and we were besties again.
How she put up with me I’ll never know. I was definitely a bratty friend. I knew it all and I never let her forget it. And then she moved again.
Her family moved to Richmond, Virginia and mine stayed put. We wrote occasional letters and sent audio letters to one another recorded on cassette tapes. I still have those recordings and the casual conversation of third graders is so funny to me.
She eventually moved to Germany and then back to Richmond. Her parents split up and so did mine. We lost touch. I saw her once in college and we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook but our lives diverged and so did our friendship.
I had lots of neighborhood playmates: Jessica, Carrie, LaDonna. I made good friends in middle school: Robin, Nicky, Amy. And then our lives diverged.
In high school, I was inseparable from Susan for quite a few years and then something happened that I can’t quite remember and we drifted apart. We might have had a falling out. Then she had a boyfriend. That’s usually how things go.
I started hanging out with the popular crowd. Smart, pretty people. I enjoyed them all but never quite felt like I fit in with Jennifer, Kirsten, Jenny, and others.
We graduated high school and I was determined to make something of myself. Determined to show people that I did belong in that pretty, popular crowd. Within a year, there were more fallouts and tragedy struck and our high school group seemed fractured for good.
I moved through college years and professional life and never connected with anyone. I had plenty of girlfriends, some of whom are still good friends of mine. But never that one person. Never that one girl that you could call up at 2am and know that she would do anything for you.
I used to get offended when I would meet people, especially people I really liked, and they would tell me about their “best friend back in Michigan” or the woman they’ve been friends with since the second grade.
I took it to mean: Hi. Nice to meet you. We can be friends but not that good of friends because that position has already been filled. And perhaps I stayed guarded in the friendship.
Now, I’m a middle-aged woman and sometimes the insecurities that come with the lack of a best friend still creep up on me. I recently went to a blogging conference full of lively, sociable women, many of whom I’ve known for a while.
And I still felt lonely.
I tweeted about this a few months ago. I was surprised at how many women admitted the same thing. Is it the people we surround ourselves with or is it simply the type of people we are?
Sometimes I feel a little sad that I’ll never have that one girlfriend to giggle with. The one that has seen me through boyfriends and breakups and motherhood and marriage.
On the other hand, it’s made me realize that good friends come in all forms: my husband, my mother, my sister. And I wouldn’t trade any of them.