Saturday, June 15, 2013

30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel), Day 15: A Song That Reminds You Of Your Best Friend

I really dislike the designation "best friend."  I can't entirely explain why but I've always felt like it's an impossible-to-determine category.  What makes a good friend the "best"?  The time you've known each other?  The experiences you've shared?  What you've given or sacrificed or provided for one another?  Is it about quality or quantity?  Is it measured by intensity or duration?  What is the for-the-sake-of-which of friendship, anyway?

I think I can trace my general attitudes toward friendship back to my youth.  In my younger years, my family moved around quite a bit.  In fact, when I entered the 9th grade, I was in my seventh different school. As a consequence of that itinerancy, I would say that I've always been, still am, by both necessity and habit, someone who tries to find and make friends wherever I am in whatever ways I am able.  Unlike a lot of people, I don't have friends now that I've known since childhood, friends with whom I went to summer camp or learned to fingerpaint or read or ride a bike.  The longest "continuous" friendships I still have are with a couple of high school friends. (Shout out to my Bartlett girls, VivaviousVal and JamMasterJen!)   Next to them, my longest and most enduring friendships have two sources: (1) my friends at Wild Bill's, a juke joint in town that I've been frequenting for going on twenty years now and (2) my Villanova (grad school) friends, people who I see maybe once a year. That is to say, measured in duration alone, my "best" friends are not exactly "longtime" friends.  They're all friendships I formed in my adulthood.

To make things even more complicated, I had my first serious fall-outs with a few friends in the last year and half, which gave me pause for the first time in my life to really consider not only what I think it means for me to be a friend to someone, but also what it means for me for someone to be a friend to me.  What I (unfortunately) learned from those experiences is, first, that friendship is something that should never be assumed, no matter how long it's lasted or how dear it is or how unassailable it may seem.  Friendships require constant maintenance, and if they're weaker than you thought and you look away for a second, they can vanish like a thief in the night. I learned, second, that friendships can't be maintained unilaterally.  In the unfortunate case when you discover that a friendship is a one-way affair, you'll inevitably find that it can't withstand even the slightest turbulence.  But I also learned, third, that there comes a time to let some friendships go.  It's sad when that happens and it leaves a gaping and irreparable hole, to be sure, but the world doesn't end.  In fact, it gets better, even if only because you come out of those experiences with a far richer understanding of and a far deeper appreciation for the friendships that abide.

Here's one thing I can say with total confidence:  friends are friends in my book, full stop.  On the whole, I'd do the same for the least of my friends that I'd do for the "best" of them.   That's the long and short of what it means to be a friend, I think.  Superlatives are unnecessary where friendship is concerned.  That said, today's prompt for the 30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel) asks for a song that reminds me of my "best" friend, so I have to put aside my populist inclinations for the moment and choose amongst my beloved.  Somewhat surprisingly, it wasn't at all difficult to do.

Adriel Trott, you BAMF, we've known each other for going on thirteen years now.  We've been there for each other in every high and every low of those years.  You know the very best and the very worst of the stories that can be told about me, and you've been (for the most part) discreet about telling them.  There is nothing that I don't love about you.  What is more, yours is the only wedding I've ever voluntarily attended and, when you walked down the aisle, I actually cried. We're both women of strong opinion, modest pedigree and sometimes ill repute, which makes our friendship loud and raucous and not for the faint of heart.  And it makes for a friendship for which I wouldn't trade anything.

I'll just say that, despite the million times you've asked me to play it, I don't really love this song.  But here it is, "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo GirlsThis one's for you: 

If I was ever inclined to give someone the designation "best" friend, Trott would get it, hands down, no contest.  I don't know if I can say it any better than the song does:  The best thing you've ever done for is to help me take my life less seriously.  

It's only life, after all.

Trott and I both come from hard-scrabble, grint-and-grind, fake-it-til-you-make-it cities, and families, and probably also genetic makeups.  I might say that we're one of those split-souls that Aristophanes recounts in the Symposium, but that would be to give myself too much credit. She's a force to be reckoned with, brilliant and brave, true as steel and just as strong.  And yeah, she brings me closer to fine every year that our friendship grows.

Nostalgic?  Check out my entry for Day 15 of the 2011 version of the 30 Day Song Challenge.

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