half of my heart

I can’t stop bouncing. Literally bouncing up and down. Mostly it’s just a bit of a prance on the balls of my feet, but every once and a while I actually get some air.

My best friend is coming to visit in three days, and I’m excited. Okay, excited might be a bit of an understatement. I’m ecstatic, giddy …. bouncy. I haven’t seen Mac – excluding video chat dates – since I got on the train headed to the London airport the second week of August. And while I’ve gone longer without seeing loved ones, I’ve never lasted this long without seeing my best friend.

It’s a bit difficult to explain. My mother doesn’t really get it, even though she is surprisingly tolerant of my giggling phone calls and bossiness as I rush to help her organize a party for Mac’s homecoming. My boss doesn’t really get it, she’s trying hard to understand why I’m jumping through so many hoops, working so many late hours and scrambling to tie up loose ends just to take a couple of days off work in one of our busiest times. Elliott doesn’t really get it, he’s trying his hardest to be supportive of me being back in town but wanting to spend every breath of my time with someone other than him.

And I’m not sure how to explain it to them other than simply saying, “She’s my best friend.”

I met Mac at the beginning of my freshman year in high school, and really you’d be hard-pressed to find two people more different. She is loud and brash, has awful taste in television shows, our musical preferences only occasionally cross paths, and her jet black hair means she is very much the Veronica to my Betty.

But in the past 12 years, those differences have hardly mattered. We stuck by each other through the dramas of high school. We experienced first crushes, first cars, first dates. When a boy broke my heart for the first time, she sat with me on my bed and let me cry for hours. A few years later when a boy broke her heart, I drove four hours home from my grandmother’s house so I could return the favor.

We left for college together – just us. When all of our other friends were moving into dorms across town, Mac and I moved across the state where we didn’t know anyone but each other. We found new adventures and new heartaches and the greatest 24-hour doughnut shop around, and when we decided to transfer colleges at the end of our freshman year, we did that together too.

She was my first roommate in my first apartment. She held me back when I wanted to pummel a guy for pretending he didn’t know her when we passed him on campus, even though he’d kissed her – a lot – the night before. I held her hair back that night after she’d drowned her hurt feelings in a bottle of Jack Daniels. She wrapped me in her arms when my parents got a divorce and eight years later, I wrapped her in mine when her dad moved out.

When she found the man of her dreams and decided to move across the Atlantic to be with him, I held her hand the entire 14 hour flight. And when she got homesick on that first night we spent in her new house in a new country, Mac crawled into my bed, curled up next to me and I held her as she cried.

That next morning I found her soon-to-be-husband sitting on the back porch drinking tea and reading the newspaper. I plopped down in the chair next to him and leafed through his discarded sections before turning to him. “James,” I started, “I’m sorry Mac got upset last night. Mostly I’m sorry she spent her first night in your new home in bed with me and not her fiance.”

He had only chuckled at me and shook his head. “I’m not sorry, Blair,” he said. “She needs you, desperately. You’re her best friend in the whole world. She is comforted by you. And with all of this change, I’m glad to let her do anything that makes her feel better.”

“So our … uh … dependency? on each other doesn’t bother you?”

“No,” he laughed, “it doesn’t. You are her best friend. More than that. I think you two are probably soul mates in some sense. Two pieces of the same puzzle. Two halves of the same heart, or whatever it is they say. I love her more because she loves you so much. What kind of husband would I be if I didn’t respect the love she has for her best friend?”

Two pieces of the same puzzle. Two people who laughed and played and loved and held each other up during a time in life when change is necessary and inevitable and constant. A time when more than anything you need someone you can depend on, who understands you and your quirks and your inside jokes and your insecurities. Who loves you anyway.

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I think that’s snag that everyone gets caught on when I try to explain how important my best friend is to me. Sometimes it’s hard for ‘grown ups’ to remember how much they needed a good friend when they were young. I think sometimes they forget how hard those years could be. Growing and changing and falling in and out of love and moving away from those who mean the most to us. Being alone.

Sometimes I think it’s hard for a boyfriend to understand how much a girl just needs a best friend. Because as much as I love Elliott’s friends, they are his. They share inside jokes and experiences and crazy stories that are hilarious to listen to, but that’s all I’m doing – listening. I’m an outsider looking in to everything they’ve done and been through together.

And Mac is on my inside with me.

I’m not sure if James is right about the soul mates part, but I do know that part of me will always belong to my best friend. Two halves of the same puzzle, of the same heart. And whoever occupies my other half is just going to have to share.

… but not this week. This week is for best friends.

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