I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.
Just hearing from Stephanie tends to bring this out in me, which I love.
There's just nothing like when the closest thing you've ever had to a life-long sibling calls you up following a text message she received from you, to laugh at how absolutely ridiculous you are and order you to do something (which you know you need to do); reminding you that she still (after 20 years of friendship) knows you...and possibly too well!
When I say she's the closest thing to a life-long sibling that I have known, it means she's incredibly special. And while having found blood siblings and my father after a good several years of being just me and my mom is special, Steph holds a rank that is forever irreplaceable.
Seven years of living next-door to someone and spending as much time together as Stephanie and I did as kids tends to bring about a certain bond. I'm sure it's a little different for her as she actually had two siblings who lived in that house with her. But basically, I was a part-time resident in her home and she was a part-time resident of mine for those seven years. A fence may have separated the yards, but with how often we hopped it, it may as well have been gone; and certainly she should have had bunk beds in her room for how many times I slept on that floor!
Between us, two people couldn't be more different, but I think that is why I tend to do well with such friendships and in dealing with people who have completely different thoughts and realities than mine. The arguments she and I would have! Let me tell you, looking back, I see where we were both stubborn little asses and were actually at times rather dedicated to being self-disciplined and not talking to each other for an entire month when we were angry with one another and had vowed to do so.
The thing that makes me so grateful for mine and Stephanie's relationship, I think, is the fact that the relationship was never a given. It always took work, which I think creates something more of a treasure in my mind. Family just loves you. They kind of have no choice. But a friend loves you by choice even after seeing the worst and best parts of you. And this is my sort of point of this entry:
Of course, she didn't make that easy. So many summers we would have the discussion about who was best friend status. It was always that Stephanie was my best friend, but Rachael Gladwin was hers. Oh, and heaven forbid that I look up to Stephanie. She was always convinced that I needed someone else to look up to. (In reality, I still at times see no one better).
The road of life separated us by hundreds of miles. We lost touch, got back into it, said hurtful things, had times of silence, had awkward moments, missed out on each other’s vital experience of High School and—in the case of Stephanie, I missed out on hearing her college experience while I opted out of that for the time being. But after all of those years apart, when we were reunited, it felt like we started exactly where we left off, which is something that honestly, looking back, I have not had with a single person ever before, or ever since. I maintain: she is special.
It was during the planning of her wedding that, I think for the first time ever, Stephanie and I talked rather unguardedly about the relationship between she and I openly, which to me felt a little odd…because words like “best friend” and “sister” seemed to be something that just wouldn’t come out of her mouth, like, ever. And I was finally okay with that because I knew how all of this felt to me. And as far as I was concerned, she was that friend that I made family years ago as she had advised.
On her wedding day, I gave a speech which was emotional. I am told there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. And I was so proud to have been able to be there and do that for my friend on her’s and her husband’s special day. But the best part of the whole experience, and quite possibly the best moment of our friendship thus far, was that she toured me around to her family—her actually family—introducing me as the girl who “is like a sister to me”, and later in the night, when my mom was driving her to her cabin, and her husband was in my car en route to the same location, words were shared between each duo about the value of my mother and I to she, her mother and her father. I will never forget that night.
Now it may be a little overkill to make an entire blog entry about the history of a friendship, but it’s just the way I am and, as Stephanie knows, most likely always will be.
So, here’s the thing—the actual point of this blog: I think in life, there is no thing as “just” friends. Each person that you have called a friend for any period of time has been more than a “just”. Each person changes you in one way or another. For better, or for worse. It can be an acquaintance that you just barely got to know, but something within you changes. A thought about the world, or a realization about yourself comes along. A friend of a longer period of time becomes a part of you and your history. And perhaps, even your family.
So to all of you “just” friends (but especially the ones who have become or always have been my “family”), the ones I talk to frequently, just barely at all. All of you, I want to take the opportunity to say that I love and absolutely cherish you for being a part of my life, past or present. Thank You!