One of my oldest and dearest friends, Lindsey, is planning a 30th birthday bash for me in a couple of months, and in creating the guest list, planning the theme, and all the other details, a lot of conversations have been had about my life. We recently got together and pored over our high school yearbooks, reminiscing about boys we were in love with, classes we skipped, outfits we wore, cliques we hated, fights we got into, all the way up to becoming roommates, taking pregnancy tests, going through heartaches like deaths in the family, divorces, and more.
It occurred to me while we were sharing a bottle of wine and reading our old inscriptions to each other in our yearbooks, that Lindsey has been by my side, more or less, for 20+ years. For much of my childhood and all of my adult life. She and one or two other girlfriends of mine have known me almost as long as my family. I realized that I had a soulmate long before I met my husband. In truth, your real true love(s) in life are your friends. More specifically, your oldest and dearest friends.
I remember the first time I met Lindsey, on the first day of 6th grade. I saw this girl covered in freckles, with the lightest blonde, most unruly hair I’d ever seen. It was escaping her barrette and her bangs were dancing all over her forehead – and she still has that one curly bang that won’t stay still all these years later.
Who else has known you your whole life, seen all of you: the good, the bad, the ugly – and still loved you unconditionally? Who else can you go for weeks, even months, without speaking to, but still fall back into place like you saw them yesterday? These are the people who know you to your core, who don’t have to ask you what kind of wine you’d prefer, what your kid wants for their birthday, which restaurant you want to meet at – they just know, because they’ve known you for so long you are second nature to them. These are the people who keep your innermost secrets in the vault, who you can always trust with your life.
I have been through trials and tribulations with my best girlfriends that would end any relationship or marriage, but because we’d been through so much, had known each other for so long, and loved each other unconditionally, were able to work things out and come out stronger for it. You can do that. You have nothing at stake, no reason not to try.
Perhaps it’s because these are the friends who know everything. Alllllll the secrets. Alllllll the drama. Every minor little detail that you keep under wraps. It could be a real liability to trash those friendships!
When you’ve had a friend for as long as I have, you begin equate so many of your lifelong memories with them. I remember watching the O.J. Simpson verdict in the cafeteria of the middle school with Lindsey. We made a habit of eating Wildberry Skittles and Peach Snapple for lunch almost every single day of 8th grade. She was the first one I told when I got my period (and she promptly made fun of me). She still has copies of our first “novel,” cowritten by us, and more sordid and x-rated than the cheesiest of erotic romance novels. She constantly got me into trouble. We mooned passersby as they drove past my house, dressed up in my stepmother’s lingerie, froze our bras, and tortured the neighborhood boys. She was a very welcome bad influence on me.
Lindsey was by my side in high school as I snuck into drag shows underaged, and danced on the stage to Pet Shop Boys and the Spice Girls. We drank vodka Midori sours and got into slap-happy fights with other underaged girls we didn’t like. We skipped class every morning of our senior year to go to Hardees and eat biscuits and gossip about guys we liked. We surfed AOL together when AOL was fresh, shiny and new. She even bought me my prom dress! When I was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder my junior year, Lindsey came to see me every day and even bribed a nurse so she could spend the night once. She stayed in the room as I had a painful spinal tap and made jokes so that I would laugh through the tears and pain.
In our early twenties we became roommates and nearly killed each other a few times. We fought with our significant others, griped over how to arrange the furniture, fought over what to make for dinner. We slammed doors and cussed each other out, but I was still decked out in an ugly yellow dress with blue roses by her side when she got married. She made me curl my hair. I’ll never forgive her for that.
Lindsey is the only person I know that could ever have a collection of photographs of me peeing outside over the years. Seriously, you’d think after the first 2-3 drunken parties with her shoving a camera in my face, I’d have wised up, but alas, no. She prizes that collection like it’s worth gold. This woman has more dirt on me, more embarrassing photos, videos and memorabilia than I could ever care to say. But you know what? I remember her old nose.
We’ve had major falling outs (one of them even lasted years), trials and tribulations. We’ve seen each other through the deaths of family members, financial struggles, the births of our children (she was even with me in the delivery room when my son was born), and now we’re facing the dreaded 3-0 together (I’m a full year ahead of her, much to her amusement).
I just think that it is a beautiful thing, to have lived three decades and have friends that have lasted for almost that long. Lindsey is a great example of one of those friends, the true “soulmates” in life, that have seen you at your worst, through thick and thin, the most embarrassing scenarios possible as well as all the triumphs. The joy of it is, I have more than one “soulmate” like Lindsey. I have a couple. It’s really a blessing to have those people in your life that love you unconditionally. They don’t love you because you’re family and they have to. They love you because they know you and they want to. These are the friends that will tell you when you’ve truly messed up and need help, these are the ones you can call in the middle of the night with a major crisis. The friends who will help pick you up when you’ve fallen really far, and the ones who will always be there smiling when you soar the highest. And they’ll never stop making fun of you the entire time.
I imagine Lindsey and I will be old and withered together, some random day in the future sitting outside, drinking more wine than we should, drunkenly babbling about the old days when we painted the town with our shenanigans. We will have had lives well lived. And then, for old times’ sake, she’ll snap my picture peeing in a bush.
Do you have a true soulmate in an old friend? Someone special whose friendship has lasted a lifetime?