I’ve lingered over my “a hero that let you down” post for a while now, but I still don’t feel clear about where it’s going, so I’m making my own 30 days of truth new rule: if it means not posting for a few weeks, you can skip around and come back to it. There. With that accomplished, moving on to the next day: “someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried.”
BC, my pal extraordinaire, and I met in the summer of 2000 when we were both camp counselors. Spending nine weeks in the middle of nowhere surrounded by children makes for some serious bonding – the kind hostages and Siamese twins experience. Being outnumbered by children at around 10 to every one adult means the grown-ups have to stick together for sheer survival. On top of that, we worked in the same department and he had an eerie ability to keep me from wringing the necks of the most irritating children and to make me laugh when I was teetering on the edge of sanity.
When the last day of camp came and he drove away, I wept. He headed back to Pittsburgh and I was off to Atlanta for a theater job. I guessed we would probably never see each other again. Ha ha. After two months in Atlanta, after lots of emails and phone calls, I decided to try my luck in Pittsburgh. The rent was cheaper. It was an adventure. And my best friend was there. (OK, and the evil snow that falls every winter, but it still had its plusses). I drove up with all my worldly possessions, sight unseen.
We started out as roommates for a little over a year. I didn’t know anyone else in the city. I was, let’s say, a little emotionally needy. OK. I was a hot mess. I had a job folding jeans at the mall. I was broke. I was more than a little homesick. I was not an ideal roommate. But he put up with me. Then I started dating and decided that it would be brilliant to move in with a cop-to-be and settle down. Because I love authority so much. And if BC didn’t understand my super-urgent looovvvvvve … then he just didn’t care about me.
I smuggled my stuff out of the apartment while BC was at work and left a note.
I know. I suck.
BC didn’t speak to me for three years. We don’t really talk about it. It was probably justified. But, the thing is, the whole time I just missed my best friend. The older that I get, the more I realize how lucky I am to have exactly one person in my life so far who really gets me. And shortly after I moved out, I started my campaign to talk him back into being my friend. I left voice mails. I sent letters and postcards every few months- first to our old apartment and then care of his parents when he had moved on. I sent emails every now and then. And all of them resulted in nothing. But I kept it up. For three whole years of silence.
And one day five years ago, in Washington, DC, my phone rang. And it was BC.
All of a sudden, I had back that one friend who really understood me. And after three years living without that safe place to land, I don’t care to go without it again. I tried. He was there the night I got engaged to The Ex and when I called it off. He drove me to get my gall bladder out and kept me company after the surgery while I enjoyed some really good pain medicine. We’ve talked about good boyfriends and bad boyfriends and job headaches and books and trashy MTV reality shows.
And along the way, in figuring out how to be a good friend, which I hope I am most of the time, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that all friendships come and go in cycles, but that you can trust the best ones to cycle back around eventually. I’ve learned that admitting when I screw up can go a long way. I’ve learned that listening matters more than talking. I’ve learned that the more someone means to you, the less worth it little fights and arguments become in the big picture. I’ve learned roughly how many drinks I can hold before I behave badly enough to get driven home. And I’ve learned that it is possible to trust people that aren’t blood relations – to believe that they will stick around. And that they do it for no other reason than because they want to.
So, no, I would not choose to live without that friendship in my life. Because I’ve tried. And it sucked.