She is Oprah, and I am Gayle. I am Amy Poehler, and she is Tina Fey. Thelma and Louise (without the whole dying part). Drew and Cameron. Rachel and Monica. In fact, when she calls “I’ll Be There For You” is the song that functions as Jil’s ringtone. Because after twenty-one years, that is our mantra. “I’ll be there for you, cause you’re there for me too.” Isn’t that the truth?
Friends from the first day of fifth grade. How many people can say that and actually mean it? We’ve never had a break in our friendship. Ever.
We were part of the same very large circle of friends all the way through school, and I don’t have photos from birthdays, Christmases, school events, or just adventures that don’t include Jil’s smile.
Today, we live on different sides of the country. Jil in California doing the work that she’s always wanted to do and that comes natural to her. She’s a creative force and is getting recognition about the facts that I have always known. I am in Michigan, writing and teaching. Both things that I declared my ambitions for life at age ten.
Since we live on opposite sides of the country, it’s only natural that we have additional friends. I for one would actually dislike it if she didn’t have any other friends. Her sparkle and shine needs to be shared with the world. Having a circle of close friends, for any person, but I think particularly for women, is essential.
I could be jealous of her other friends, but I’m not. Yes, they get to experience her up close more frequently than I do, and yes, saying “I am right around the corner” doesn’t mean get up and go look at my photograph to those friends. But, it’s okay.
Distance doesn’t dull a friendship that was always meant to be.
She and her husband were in town for a week. And today, I had to tell her “I will see you later” because “bye” is too sad, and I’m not about that life.
We met for breakfast and then we got our toes done. How I lived for thirty-one years without ever before getting a pedicure is beyond me right now.
We talk easily. Like no time has ever passed, and really, it hasn’t. We talk frequently, and much of the time I text her random things that pop into my head. It’s a thing. If a friend of mine, be prepared for random outbursts of “youarenevergoingtobelieve” or “whatthehelljusthappened”.
We have been friends for twenty-one years, and we laugh, joke, and understand each other like we always have. I have cried many times and she has listened many times. We have picked each other up, righted each other again, and said “you got this.”
And the best part is, we know it is true.
I have seen many friends come and go throughout my life. I have had let downs from friends that were supposed to stand for me on the best days of my life, and those leading up. And I have had others that haven’t included me in their milestones, leaving me with wounds that took considerable time and all of the metaphorical gauze to heal. I call those people “part-time” friends.
Jil has never been a part-time friend.
And thankfully, neither have any of the others that make the crop that I keep close today. I have learned my lesson well.
We have our people.
Together, we have a collection of memories that are vast and span adventure, heartbreak, fun, sadness, illness, and a myriad of other adjectives. As individuals, we have the same. We are both writing our own stories, but we are feature characters in the other woman’s work.
And we are only twenty-one.
Sophia Loren is quoted as saying, “there is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
I don’t really want to defeat age, I just want to do it with the people I love.
Jil, my friend, we are only twenty-one. We have a very long life ahead of us.
I’ll be there for you.
Cause you’re there for me too.