Over the years I heard my mother say there are only but a handful of true friends in a life time. Of course, as we children do, I disagreed. In our Latin culture, our sense of friendship is different, she added in her wise seniority voice. As time has gone by and experiences have dented the solid believes of my youth, I have found her to be wrong in some instances and much to my dismay, right in many others.
It always struck me as odd when people called best friend someone they never see or talk to. “We can pick up where we left off” does not cut it for me. I have those friends, they can be good friends, but I would not categorize them as Best Friends. The pick up where we left off leaves unefulfilled the “in between” moments; the many crucial and important moments in a person’s life and even those small ones when we so badly need a friend and picking up where we left off is not going to do it. A best friend is one I want to be with or be able to reach out to in those times that are important to me.
The thought came to mind when a person I know was competing in the New York City Ironman, a competition that tests the endurance of a participant in ways I find unimaginable. It requires discipline, guts, and perseverance. All along I read on Facebook posts about “my bestest is competing” “that’s my girl” “My BFF is in the NYC Ironman”. I knew of a few friends who were going to support her, in fact, I felt the need to be there to show my support, but restrained by my weekend job, I was unable to. The BFF kept posting about her Bestest. Confused I asked, "are you in NYC?" "No, I’m watching from my couch", she replied. "Why are you not there?" I asked still confused. No reply. Let me make this clear, she was not there NOT because she was working, sick, or had any other commitments; she was home, on her couch.
Another opportunity arose for the BFF to be with her Bestest. This time she was running a marathon. Many of us got together to carpool to the event, she was asked if she wanted to ride with us. “No, since I can’t run I don’t want to be there” I thought about a year ago when a stress fracture prevented me from running a marathon I had registered with many friends so we could run it together. I stood on the sidelines, watched and cheer them able to run only a few yards with each one of them as they passed.
They were not my bestest, not my best friends and some of them just friends in running. Yet, I felt I had to support them.
I have driven to see a friend run a marathon, I have driven to see their children perform in a play, I have been at a friend’s musical performance, I have been at their graduation. I have been there when they cried. I have been in the hospital and I have been at their bedside. I have been there for coffee, for drinks, for conversations in a car, I have been at wakes, I have been at dinners, I have been wherever they have needed a friend, their best friend.
I want to support my friends, I want to be available in their difficult moments, I want to share my good moments with them. I want to be part of their day, celebrate their triumphs.
Perhaps my mother has been right about this too, and my standards of what a best friend is are strongly shapely by my culture. What the American culture sees as a best friend is no more than an acquaintance to me. My kind of best friend is someone that might only exist in my own fantasy or in what I give to whomever I call my bestest.