“Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.”
What is a true friendship? Aristotle believed that true friendship is rooted in goodness of character and equal virtue and is extremely rare. In the age on social media, we use the term “friend” loosely. We can easily connect with anyone and everyone, but those connections are often shallow and empty of real meaning. I, too, believe that true friendship is rare, and I am grateful to have firsthand knowledge of it in my life.
N and I met in 7th grade history class. I don’t remember the moment we met. She was simply and suddenly in my life. Our family structures were very similar. Our parents both married and split around the same time. Both of our dads remarried and were often absent from our lives. We were both only children and very close to our moms. It was our common ground.
We partnered on projects together, ate lunch together, went to school dances together. We made frequent treks to the grocery store to buy rolls of sugar cookie dough to snack on while binge watching MTV. We decided that when we turned 16 we would take a road trip to Seattle, the capital of grunge, and we started saving money for the trip by putting change in a jar. We asked kids in the cafeteria to donate their leftover lunch money to our cause, but we never saved very much. We kept buying cookie dough with it instead. We made up songs and games to entertain ourselves. We had (and still have) infinite inside jokes that no one else would ever understand. We roamed around our city, exploring and making our presence known.
N and I both have somewhat adventurous natures. We never daydreamed about our wedding days or settling down to have kids but instead focused our free spirits on really living life, taking advantage of opportunities, and experiencing everything we could. As we got older, this of course got us in trouble a few times. We snuck out, partied hard, got tattoos and piercings. But we took risks. We didn’t shy away from the world and never felt like we were missing out. We were in advanced honors classes all through school. I was in the internship program and N competed on the debate team. And we were both in math club (believe it or not).
In high school our friendship got more complicated, as many teenage friendships do. As our relationships with other people increased and became complex, so did our relationship to each other. There were rivalries, jealousies, and dramatic love interests intermixed with the white lies that we told each other for no real reason except that we were simply trying to find our ways through the world and didn’t know how to be honest with each other or ourselves.
Our bond was undeniable, but still we grew apart. Our friendship became too disjointed and frictional. On high school graduation day, we threw our caps in the air, hugged each other, and didn’t speak again for three years. N and I have taken a few natural breaks throughout our friendship, but our bond has always brought us back together. I think those days are behind us now. We have learned how to be better friends to each other. We have traveled across country many times to see each other, having lived in different states for more than half of our friendship. We message each other all the time, for vital reasons and for no reason at all except a desire to connect.
Here is a little bit about N: She is incredibly bright. It was easy to see that way back when we first met in junior high. I have always admired her quick wit. She makes me laugh longer and harder than anyone I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t let her wear her pretty long blonde hair down at my wedding because it would have overshadowed my whole bridal ensemble. She has a glamorous style that she never sacrifices for any reason. She is smart, bold, and brave.
N is stronger than she sometimes realizes. She is finally seeing that she deserves so much more in life than she has allowed herself to have. I have not been diligent in showing how much I admire, appreciate, and love her. In this way I have failed her as a friend, but I hope to have many more years of friendship with her to make up for it.
Relationships are complex, messy. N and I have grown up together, spending some of our most turbulent years together. True friendship is not about perfection. It’s about working through life together. We have seen each other at our worst. We have judged each other and carried each other. We know each other on multiple levels, and for that reason we can talk more deeply and laugh more honestly and whole-heartedly together than with anyone else. We are kindred spirits. After more than 20 years, we continue on our journey through life bound together forever in friendship.