When Your BFF Lives Far Away

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 

When I talk about a BFF, I mean the person you can call crying, the first person you call laughing in hysterics about that time your husband accidentally touches your vulva with hands covered in jalapeño pepper residue and you put ice cream on it to make it feel better. Yeah, that kinda friend.

A BFF thinks about you first (like when my BFF Facebook Lived me in the middle of a New Kids on the Block concert and wordlessly held up the phone while they played “Hangin’ Tough,” and before that, texted just to say the DJ was playing my all-time favorite song during the preshow). A BFF might go quiet when she’s too busy to talk, and you understand. She unloads the shit she needs to unload, and you do the same. You just get stuff. If I had to pick a person that ticked all these boxes, it’s her.

My BFF lives 700 miles away, and I’m envious of everyone who has BFF who lives close by.

It’s stupid lonely when you have to sneak phone conversations in between parenting and real life. If we lived near each other, we’d have more time, the way my friends buddy up and parent — they volunteer together, go to kids’ soccer games together, go grocery shopping together, have dinner together. My BFF and I are stuck with random, often scheduled phone calls, plus whenever we can manage to be on the internet at the same damn time. And Facebook is no excuse for actual human interaction. You never hear people laugh. My BFF can usually make me dissolve with a word or two. When you’ve known each other so long, the backlog of ridiculous situations has accumulated so much you can’t help it.

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Other people’s BFFs can help them. If her mother-in-law were coming over, sure as hell I’d be there with a Swiffer Wet Jet. And she’d show up at my house to scrub the baseboards or bake a cake. I definitely cleaned my last BFF’s bathroom on numerous occasions before she also moved. I brought her food when her family was sick. My BFF would do the same damn thing. I’d do it for her. We can’t, and it sucks.

Guess I could order her pizza delivery. I”ll have to try that sometime when she’s having a shit day.

Other people have BFFs whose kids play together. There’s something special about watching your kids hang out with your best friends’s kids. My BFF and I? Our kids have never met. Hell, we’ve never met each other’s kids. When her son wins an award for being the kindest kid in his grade, I can’t be there personally to celebrate with her.

No birthdays. No drinking — god, would I love to put back a few with her when I got a publishing contract or the time her proposal won over everyone else at work. She could have held my hand when I got my tattoo. We could sing extra loud in our minivans and laugh about it.

The worst is seeing people with their BFFs. You know, when you hang out with other moms, who is BFFs with whom. You know you depends on whom to clean their damn bathroom, who shows up at whose moms’ night out. Who shares her snacks with whose kids. It hurts to watch. Just one more reminder of your loneliness. Sometimes I text my BFF while it’s going on. Which is sort of comforting and sort of depressing: I get some BFF time — I don’t really tell her what’s up — but at the same time, I’m reminded, once again, that’s she might as well be on the goddamn lunar module.

But her friendship means more to me than most of the surface mom friends I see going on around me — and the shallow mom friendships that I mostly have. I’ve known my BFF since I was fourteen. Fourteen. Who gets that? We used to sprawl out on our friends’ beds and write endless novels that she edited (I wrote all the sex scenes, which were probably laughably inaccurate). This isn’t to cackle that my BFF rocks more than everyone else’s, but instead to ask: who gets proof of concept like that? Fourteen years old. I had just gotten my freaking braces taken off. She was so much cuter than me and so much snarkier and sure of herself. We were sort of frenemies for a long time. But we grew up, and time smoothed out the rough edges.

I value the quality of that friendship more than the shallow friendships I could make with other people. We talk about our kids sometimes. But we also talk about music and TV and husbands and writing and books and real life things and god, aren’t we fucking old?! It’s good to have this friend who’s more than an ally in spit-up and baby food. We can have a real conversation.

I just wish we could have it face-to-face. And when I see all the other moms in their neat little pairs, I wish it even harder.

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