I have to admit that little did I know when I was a kid playing tag on the playground or choosing teams for dodgeball that I would meet three ladies who would remain constants in my life, even today. Sometimes I wonder how I have tolerated these girls for so long or how they have tolerated me. But together, over four decades, we have created an unbreakable bond. Here is my rationale for why I am fortunate enough to have these pretty kick-ass girls in my life—the things that have helped me grow and maintain my friendships over the years:
1. Write notes. Yes, in elementary school, we were the queens of note-writing. Today, we may send emails and abbreviated texts, but back then, we wrote notes that had our own secret codes inside. Our codes might have contained small square boxes with a “yes” or “no” above them, but they were our own codes, damn it! We felt comfort knowing we all spoke the same language. Getting a note now from these girls wouldn’t be the same. We’ve matured past the point of caring whose hair looks ridiculous and who is going out with whom—kind of.
2. Practice folding said notes with your girlfriends. Only true friends can fold notes so tight that their parents would never be able to open them. It would take a chisel to do so, and our parents were not willing to put the time into this. We knew our secrets were always safe with each other. Keep said notes in your pocket at all times, however. Putting notes in your folders can be heartbreaking. They fall out and the whole school knows not only which teacher you think is hot, but all of your business.
3. Ride bicycles together. Yes, I said a bicycle. I didn’t say take a spinning class with your friend. While exercise classes may be the popular thing to do, several of our memories were made on long bike rides. Besides, if we were lucky, we would see a cute boy on the next street and hide behind the tree while watching him ride his green machine! Don’t forget to swipe a few dollars from your mom’s purse before you leave for your ride, though. The grocery store keeps Payday bars in stock, and you need enough money for two.
4. Have sleepovers. The key to a successful sleepover is to make sure you don’t sleep. We developed our friendship long before the age of technology, so staying up all night and talking about anything and everything was essential. If anyone did fall asleep, we made sure to freeze her bra for added fun. A friend with a good sense of humor will always forgive you for that. Even today when I hear “We Built This City,” my singing skills kick in, and I’m back at a junior high sleepover belting out the lyrics with my best friends all over again.
5. Scary movies with girlfriends are a necessity. Who else is going to explain to you that Freddy Krueger doesn’t actually exist, and who else will pick up the phone in the middle of the night when you’ve awoken from a A Nightmare on Elm Street-induced nightmare? Who else will get out of your car with you and run like hell to your door when you’re in fear of being attacked by something in your parents’ garden? I still hate you girls for making me watch Krueger, by the way.
6. Fight with them. Get pissed off at them. This will make your friendship even better when you do apologize. Everyone knows a sincere apology leads to a real heart-to-heart talk.
7. Be their shoulder to cry on. You knew your best friend’s high school boyfriend was a real douchebag who was seeing other girls. Your girlfriend knew both of these things too, but she still loved him. Let her cry on your shoulder when he breaks her heart, every single time. She would do (and did) the same for you.
8. Go to her wedding. Cry happy tears for her. Become friends with her husband. Treat him as you would want your husband treated by your friends. Respecting your friendship includes respecting those who are nearest and dearest to your friend.
9. Rejoice at the births of her babies. Let her know that you are a mom, too, and be honest and supportive. Tell her that you also have no clue what you are doing. On the outside, you may seem to have it together, but you really aren’t sure how this whole parenting thing works either. Let your closest friends know you didn’t read enough books while pregnant, but thank God that Google exists (it really is the parenting aid of the 21st century). But remember, no amount of parenting books or Google searches can replace a non-judgmental best friend who is going through the same things you are.
10. When she loses a parent, go to the funeral. Grieve with her. Odds are her parent helped raise you too. You can’t take away her pain, but you can help her heal from her loss just by being there, lending a hand with her kids and errands, and listening to her when she needs to talk. I lost my dad 18 years ago. To this day, I clearly remember these girls coming to the funeral home and crying with me. The following days, these girls took time away from their own families and randomly appeared at my parents’ house to show support, hold my baby, talk, cry or merely sit in silence.
11. When she and her husband divorce, be there for her. Hold her tight, and tell her she will survive. Talk smack with her about the asshole. Since we’re in the 21st century, it’s very possible you’ll both stalk him (and his new girlfriend) on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. You’ll know everything they do, but you’ll pretend neither of you really give a shit. When she’s ready to love again, be her biggest supporter. I should mention that it’s not always helpful to tell your girlfriend that you’re not sure why the hell she ever married the jackass in the first place. Your friendship, however, is strong enough that she will understand you have her best interests at heart.
12. Make friends with her next husband. He will be in the picture for the long haul. Although he may never know your true hair color, he’s going to love you for sticking by his wife for so many years. He’ll understand why he’s put on the back burner when you are in town. He and your husband will eventually become friends. The guys being able to hang together will be an added bonus for your friendship. Occasionally, remind the new husband how much you love him, too. Share embarrassing stories of your girlfriend’s past with him. By doing so, he will welcome your visits.
13. Celebrate the children of your girlfriends. Be proud of how well their kids turned out, and be sure to tell your girlfriends you are proud of their kids. Share parenting tips. Laugh at parenting stories. Bitch about your own kids to these girls. They will remind you of your teen years, and then you will think your own kids are angels.
14. Connect with your girlfriends. Use social media. Visit them. Take time to get together with them and their husbands. Text them at random times during the day. Text them when you have had too much to drink. Laugh. Cry. Cuss. Ask questions about their lives. Tell them you love them. Let them know you can’t imagine the next 40 years without them.
15. After you see these girls, send texts telling them how you can’t wait to see them again. Be sure to include a few inappropriate pictures from your night out. These bitches have plenty of old dirt on you. You need to make sure you are the one with the new dirt!
Once you’ve gone through thick and thin with these friends, you know they aren’t going away. You might go days or even weeks without talking to them, but when they call or text and say they need you, your world stops. Your husband and kids understand you are going to be on an hour-long phone call and cannot be bothered. These girls do the same, which is what keeps your bond even stronger. Hang on to these girls. They might not have the same DNA as you, but they are just a part of your family as you are to theirs.