In college, I was kind of a hellion. My favorite decision was always the bad decision, and I liked to tell myself I didn’t feel bad about anything. Of course, I did care about the bad decisions, and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when all of those bad decisions caught up with me. Ce la vie, I suppose.
As I attempted to get myself back on track, I was gifted the most wonderful surprise. A friend. I had never been any good at being friends with people, because my brain and mouth do that disconnect thing where I am suddenly saying all the wrong things. Many people refer to this as “verbal diarrhea” and boy, oh, boy do I have a bad case of it sometimes.
This person I clandestinely met one evening during college changed my life. She gave me the best advice I had ever heard, and I wondered (after she said it) why everyone else had just let me continue to spiral. Without any hint of irony, sarcasm, or malice, she turned to me and told me, “You don’t have to talk to him.” Mind blown.
It is an understatement that we became immediate friends. Rachel and I became so involved in each other’s lives that we simply referred to each other’s parents as “Mom” and “Dad.” This hilariously bewildered her poor mother, as I don’t think she had ever anticipated having a “second” daughter. When Rachel got married, she didn’t have any bridesmaids, but I took her out to dinner and to the casino for a “bachelorette party” anyway.
On her birthday, I told her I was already in my pajamas and couldn’t hang out that night. Yet when I got a phone call from her that no one had wanted to come out to the bar with her, I got out of bed, got dressed, reapplied my makeup, and hauled my boyfriend along for a night of beer and pizza. She was, and still is, the only friend I have happily done something like that for.
The first place the Army moved my husband and me was Alaska. It was there we had our first baby. Rachel came, husband in tow. She has always come for me, no matter where I have moved, and no matter what number child I was on. When my middle child was born premature, she caught a red-eye flight to the middle of Missouri during a freak Spring snowstorm just to see me and my tiny baby boy. Rachel has never failed to show up for birthdays, surgeries, or deployments. She is ever faithful. She is the best friend I have ever had.
I read an article about how friendship can take a backseat when one of you enters a different stage in life. While we both entered into married life at about the same time, Rachel decided she didn’t want to have children of her own. It is a subject she is always on the defensive about, and it is something I find delightful about her. Despite this rather large difference between us, there has never been a moment where we didn’t get each other. There has never been a time when I have gone home for a visit and neglected to see her because I have kids. She is my person. To my children, she is Auntie Rachel. Our friendship continues to work and thrive, because we work very hard to make it so.
Women need each other much more than many of us would like to admit. A lot of women like to proudly proclaim they are more “one of the guys” and they “don’t get along with other girls.” That is a crying shame. Men are never going to understand your inexplicable need for sugar or salt when you are on your period. Your husband is never going to be able to tell you that dress is not flattering on you. And you’re never really going to feel at home with someone who can succumb to something as simple as a common cold.
It takes very little effort to make friends with other women. It is actually easier to lift one another up than it is to tear each other down. When you are out shopping and you see some gal looking gorgeous, tell her you like her eyebrows. Or maybe you walk your kids to school and see the same mom faces every morning — all you have to do is say, “Hi.”
Your best friend is out there waiting for you, and you deserve her. She deserves you. The two of you could be at each other’s houses right now, eating cookies, and laughing over coffee if you would just say “Hey.” You never know where you are going to find her, and you will never realize how much she completes you until she arrives in your life.
Be brave, ladies. Your Rachel is out there.