And Then She Left

We met when we were four years old. Just two little tots heading off to preschool – me in overalls and her in a white blouse and red skirt. Even at four, she was still much more fashionable than I could ever hope to be. We developed a friendship from that first day of preschool. I don’t remember the first words that were spoken or what she or I did – we probably shared a bag of animal crackers or she probably let me have the purple marker and took the blue for herself (she’s always been kinder than me, too) – but either way, it was an instantaneous friendship.

And now, over twenty years later, she is still my best friend. She’s been my best secret keeper, the person I called literally five minutes after I lost my virginity, the person I always have to go to the bathroom with, the one I would have sleepovers with on a weekly basis, the one I have laughed the most with, essentially another sister (minus the incessant bickering and all other things petty).

And then a little over six months ago, she became a wife. And in all honesty, I could not be happier for her. But I knew that with her marriage would also come her leaving. From going to the same preschool, elementary school, junior high, high school, and even graduating from the same college to being on opposite ends of a state, it didn’t seem fathomable to me. I had time to prep, I knew that the move was inevitable, but none of my preparation actually helped in the reality.

This was a person that, for years on end, I had seen on nearly a daily basis. The girl that would be my Valentine every February 14 because I had an extra-long ugly duckling phase throughout middle school and high school (but currently, the men can’t get enough of me – kidding!). We even used to decorate each other’s lockers pretending to be the other’s celebrity crush (Tom Welling for her, Justin Timberlake or Jensen Ackles for me – I can’t remember exactly, so note to self I’ll need to ask her that later). The girl I played rock, paper, scissors with underneath two adjacent bathroom stalls to see who was going to crawl to the third stall to fetch toilet paper for the both of us (both of the stalls we were peeing in happened to be out, and needless to say, I was rock, she was paper). She was there when I panicked about getting my period for the first time, I was there when she would fight with her (now) ex-boyfriend. All the quintessential definitions of a best friendship, we had them.

And to go from seeing someone every single day to seeing someone every couple of months is an extremely difficult adjustment. I mean, amen to technology for letting us text and only be a phone or Skype call away, but all the technology in the world won’t be the same as sitting in her bedroom at her parents’ house rewatching Lena find Kostos at the ferry dock (and that kiss) over and over again.

But like I said, I am genuinely and wholeheartedly happy for her. I used to be the overprotective friend where I felt she only deserved the best – but now she has found the best. And I know her move, no matter how intrinsically wound our two lives were, was not about her and I. It was about her and him, and I know that despite the distance, she doesn’t love me any less. But the missing her still sucks all the same.

I used to think that only significant others could break your heart, but just over six months ago, I learned that there are other ways for your heart to break. The day I flew home after her wedding, I sat in my hotel room (pre-checkout) and just cried. There were so many memories, so many cherished times, so many everythings that were going to change. That have changed. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still my best friend all the same – she always will be – but it’s just…hard. In all its simplicity, there’s no other word to describe it.

Since she left, we have seen each other multiple times, and nothing about our friendship has ever been amiss. No aspect has been forgotten about. If anything, new aspects have been added. Now, I spend time researching plane ticket prices, allocating my vacation days from work to plan trips to her new hometown, learning what it’s like to actually miss her. And I know she’s doing the same.

And so even though she left, I know that nothing between us will change. She’s still the same girl that let me have the purple marker, still the same person that I will rewatch movie scenes with (only now our movie selection is more akin to Bridesmaids rather than Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), and she’s still the one that, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve talked or seen each other, we can pick up right where we left off. She left, but I’m coming to see that the distance does not mean a damn thing. We adjust, we live our own separate lives, but that intrinsic bond we have had since we were four years old won’t break. My best friend then, now, and always.

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