Though I greatly admire the Oprah/Gayle friendship, I stopped having a soul ‘best friend’ by the time I was 18. I was (and still am) blessed to have many dear women friends who complement, and enhance my life so profoundly, I couldn’t possibly choose the ‘best one’. But if I just HAD to pick one who is most elemental to and for my essential self, it would be Yvette.
I met her at work. I was around 30 years old. Yvette was a few years older and just sssssooooo cool and together. We were two of only three black women in the office. I thought this made us cousins. She thought my presumption made me weird.
“Hey Yvette. What cha doin’?” I’d ask her practically every morning as I parked my butt in the chair across from her desk. I don’t think she once ever actually invited me into her office. Moreover, I don’t think I ever once assumed that she was doing what I should’ve been doing: WORKING!
Let’s just say the road to smoothly transitioned adulthood is the road I did not take. Yvette has been far more responsible. Not that she did adulthood in 3 easy lessons, either. Like most of us, she found her way in a timely manner that is not only socially acceptable, but just made plain good sense if you want to empower yourself to live happily ever after. So while I was in and out of jobs, in and out of school and in and out of relationships, she built a strong, stable career and home life. Why I never modeled myself after her example (or any of my similarly well-adjusted girlfriends) is something I’ll never know. Amazingly, as she moved on and up, she didn’t leave me behind.
Once, I begged her to drive me by my then boyfriend’s house who I (rightfully) believed was cheating on me. As we drove down the street toward his home, I recognized his car driving toward us from the opposite direction. “Duck!” I screamed at Yvette as I dove under the passenger side dashboard. I was furious that she didn’t hide as well so that he wouldn’t recognize her when his car passed hers. She calmly explained that if we both ducked, she wouldn’t be able to drive the car.
“I guess you have a point”, I conceded. Only a true friend would not risk her life – or yours- over a stupid drive by boyfriend surveillance.
We’ve had only one major challenge to our friendship. It happened about five years ago. By this time, we’d gone through all the deep friendship experiences: deaths, divorce, hangovers, home ownership, and ‘Sex and the City’. I thought we were unbreakable.
I was going through what I call my ‘Set It Off’ period; true, I had good reason to feel so utterly angry and on edge. Yet still, valid reasons don’t trump being cruel; also, I said some things…..that I should’ve kept to myself. Still even if I thought I was telling her a truth she needed to hear, in actuality, it was my mean-spirited opinion that I just felt unloading.
So she stopped talking to me. The first weeks, I was panicked. Did she get amnesia and didn’t know who she was or how to contact me? Was she in a coma? Was she being kept – ‘Silence of the Lambs’ style – in some basement somewhere by someone who likes fava beans and a nice Chianti? In time, I realized that she was simply ignoring me. Well, two divas can play that game. So I stopped thinking about her and focused on the only thing that mattered to me, my own personal pain.
Some months went by and she ran into a mutual friend who caught her up on my then current state. Yvette reached out. I ignored. She reached out again. I ignored again. She reached out yet again. I decided to ‘humor’ her by being the ‘bigger person’ and respond. We cleared the air. Agreed to disagree. Then moved on with our lives and our friendship.
Through Yvette, I learned that your best friendships are the ones that have involved both parties knowing how to be best friends to their individual selves as well.