I remember graduation day like it was yesterday. I can see us snapping pictures in our gowns. The celebratory throwing of our caps. Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” playing through the speakers as a slideshow with four years of memories flashed before our eyes. I recall the crying, the hugging, the swearing that we would all “keep in touch” and that things would never, ever change between us.
“Friends are forever!” we proclaimed. “We will never change!”
Our pink friendship bracelets were tied about our wrists, symbolizing our commitment.
Fifteen years later, unsurprisingly, a lot has changed. I don’t have all the same friends from high school. My faded pink bracelet has retired to a trunk in my closet, where it rests with hundreds of photographs, notes, and letters from the early 2000s.
Thanks to social media, we’re able to stay in touch, but for the most part, we have moved on to separate lives.
I have nothing but love for those wonderful ladies. We simply drifted. It isn’t sad. It isn’t a tragedy.
It just is.
I’ve been alive long enough to earn a few gray hairs, and this is what I’ve learned about relationships: You can count on one hand the number of friends you will keep through significant life transitions. When you graduate college, friends will drop off the radar. When you marry, a few more friends will drift away. And we all know what happens when you have children.
It’s a natural part of relationships, this drifting apart. People grow as individuals. We change. And life has a way of refining those relationships until few remain.
The precious few who stick around? They become your tribe. The friends who persist even when friendship isn’t easy. These relationships are worth their weight in gold — and every bit of effort they take to sustain.
But there is one type of friend that is more precious than your tribe. It is the friendship that persists, not because you fought so hard to keep it, but because it never required a fight at all.
Your friendship with her is comfortable. It is effortless. It is constant.
She is your person.
Your friendship is easy, like broken-in blue jeans, like breakfast for dinner or a cold beer on a hot afternoon. It just makes sense. You can talk every day for hours and never get tired of one another. Or you can talk once a year, and when you do, it feels like nothing has changed. Life transitions do nothing to stress this friendship.
Getting married? Great. You can save yourself the stamp on that wedding invitation because your person already memorized the venue address and nothing could ever keep her from showing up. She was there when you picked out the flowers. She cried when you said yes to the dress. She danced like a banshee at the reception. She is in more than half of your wedding pictures, like a shadow you didn’t realize you had.
Having a baby? Fantastic! She isn’t there yet, but you better believe she’s googling “Braxton Hicks” to figure out what the heck you are freaking out about in the third trimester. She’s more than willing to drop off pickles and ice cream, and she already has her “Auntie” name picked out.
Because she cares. She really, truly cares. Your person cares about your happiness as much as her own.
This is why, when a crisis strikes, she is the first call. She has the ability to swoop into any disaster, take your hand, and instantly put you at ease.
God forbid, divorce happens. You can count on your person to wipe your tears, honor the past you had with your former love, and also have a gallon of sugar in her trunk “just in case” she needs to destroy that SOB’s gas tank.
Or maybe there’s a death in your family. Your person flies to town at the drop of a hat, and when she walks into your house and your eyes meet hers, a thousand words go unspoken. You just cry and let her hold you because she’s your person. She’s exactly who you needed.
There is incredible security in knowing that the person who just “gets it” is by your side.
You don’t have to make plans with your person. You don’t have to clean your house. You don’t have to clean up your life. Your person is there for it — all of it — without an ounce of reservation or judgement.
She’s there to loaf on the couch with you in pajamas, binge-watching whatever show you are into, even if she’s two seasons behind. She’s happy to stroll around Target together for hours, sipping lattes and trying on those hideous bargain-rack rompers.
She will drive into town and jump right into your life — loving your kids, running errands, and eating meals at home.
Your person doesn’t require entertainment. She only cares to see you.
Because who needs entertainment, anyway, when you can stay up past midnight with your person, rehashing old stories, eating trash food, and laughing so hard your bladder leaks? There’s nothing better.
Maybe you met her in kindergarten, or maybe she was at your high school graduation. Maybe you met her a little bit later in life, or maybe you haven’t met her yet.
One thing is for sure: When you meet her, you’ll know.
And when you reach that day when life has kicked your butt and your spouse is driving you absolutely bonkers, you will pick up the phone, like you’ve done a million times before, and you will call your person.
You will laugh. And you will cry.
And you will plan to buy side-by-side front-porch homes in a beach town somewhere. And you will dream about retirement travel and talk about how your husbands will just have to get along. You will talk about the day you will end up in a nursing home together, gray-haired and glorious. Playing bunco and getting into all kinds of shenanigans, like you already do. There’s no doubt in either of your minds that you’ll both be there for one another, come hell or high water, ’til the end of time.
Because there’s one incredibly rare type of friend that you get to keep forever, and that’s your person.
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