I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing close friends in my life. Not all of have followed me into adulthood, but I have a handful of ride-or-dies that have stuck with me through some really weird stuff. Either way, I’m thankful for the friendships—no matter when they ended, or why—because I know that certain people are just meant to be there for specific portions of your life to help you grow. Or something like that.
Over the last six months, though, I’ve reconnected with Blake.
Blake was one of my best friends from 6th grade until about 10th grade. We met when we were both cast in a Newport Children’s Theatre play and quickly became friends. I’m not even positive why we “clicked,” but I think it was a combination of our love of eating* and the fact that some people thought we looked alike.**
*Please note that I said “love of eating,” not food. It wasn’t about the food, it was about eating it.
**We didn’t look alike. We were just chubby and had the same haircut.
Blake and I had a really good run. We helped each other through our awkward years and had a lot of fun together. I taught her how to pluck her eyebrows and she would give me tough love feedback that other people didn’t have the balls to give.
For example, when we went to Weight Watchers together in 9th grade and started to lose weight, I got excited and bought a pair of wide-leg off-white jeans at the Express (shudder) just because they buttoned. The button was totally pulled and I looked like I had a lower stomach tumor, but who cares? They buttoned.
Blake was not about that bullshit, though. I excitedly wore them over to her house and she wasted no time as soon as I walked in the door.
“Are those pants new?” she asked.
“Yeah, I got them at the Express! They’re an 11/12,” I bragged.
“You know, just because you can button a pair of pants doesn’t mean that they fit. I don’t know if they’re very flattering on you,” she said matter-of-factly.
I knew she was right. She knew she was right. Everyone who saw me in those jeans knew she was right. And I know she wasn’t even being mean or a bitch about it—she just kept it real 24/7 and didn’t want her BFF parading her camel toe around town like a hot mess.
I always felt like Blake was the cooler, more mature version of me. She was better at talking to boys, wore nicer clothes, and was more adventurous. We were both pretty outgoing, but she pushed me outside of my comfort zone—in a good way.
I don’t know why we stopped hanging out. She went to boarding school nearby, so while I could still see her, they had half days of school on Saturdays and it just got hard. We made new friends in our respective high schools and kind of floated away from each other. There was no falling out—we were just entering new phases of life and had new lessons to learn…separately.
Towards the end of 2010 when I was almost 27 and she was almost 26, we became unofficial Facebook Messenger buddies. Blake messaged me to congratulate me on my engagement and we attempted to make plans to meet up. We ended up getting coffee together, but I actually don’t remember much. I know we caught up and it went well, but that’s about it.
Over the next six years, my string of Facebook messages with her is filled with us touching base about random life events. Congrats on weddings and babies and promises to get together that were never kept. We had a lot going on and I think we could both barely manage our current friendships, never mind rekindling an old one.
Then for some reason this past November, we finally got together. I wish I could tell you why it finally worked out, but I really don’t have a clue. I went to her house on my birthday and I sat and hung out with her and her sister for hours. And the coolest part? It wasn’t awkward. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives immediately, even though we’d barely seen each other in almost two decades.
We’d both had countless experiences over the years that had built us up (and knocked us down), but we were the same people at our cores. I feel like it’s easy to lose sight of our authentic selves as we get older, so I was weirdly relieved that Blake and I both felt like we still knew each other—like really knew each other.
Since then, we’ve hung out probably every two or three weeks. I go over to her house while her kids are at day care and we just…chill. She takes me on hikes on the trails behind her house and excitedly teaches me about random animals and plants. I huff and puff behind her like a slow, sweaty beast who has no clue about nature, but I’m consistently in awe of how much she loves it. Every once in a while she asks to borrow my iPhone to take pictures of random things because she has a flip phone from 2007 that she can never find. I’m so jealous of her flip phone. And her zero desire to text or be connected to the world 24/7.
We sit in the backyard and read tarot cards and just talk about life. We call these visits our therapy sessions, because they really are. Now that we’re older, we’ve both become less selfish and can actively not just talk to each other, but listen to each other and provide valuable feedback. Blake will still give tough love feedback, but it’s way more gentle and she’s developed such an awareness of how her words or actions may affect others.
And there’s zero judgment. Like, none. Usually, I can feel people judging me (even if it’s unintentional) while I talk, but I don’t get that from Blake at all. And I don’t judge her either because life is WEIRD, man. To quote the late, great Harris Wittels, “We are all horrible and wonderful and figuring it out.”
I’m not going to air my dirty laundry on the Internet, and I’m certainly not going to do that to Blake, but I’ll just say that we’ve both been able to help each other through some shitty shit. (Don’t you hate shitty shit?) And that’s a big relief to me because my copay to see a therapist is $55. I just can’t justify spending that kind of money to talk about feelings because if a new Kylie lip kit comes out, I really need to have that cash on hand, ya know?