I used to watch a LOT of reruns of FRIENDS. In a prior chapter of my life, it was, in fact, one of the few respites from a life that, while it was financially and professionally better than the place I’m in now, was dominated by an awful lot of people and situations where the term “friend” was more of a euphamism than a justification. Several of those in particular proved to be especially disappointing once those persons’ true colors were revealed. A couple nearly proved to be fatal.
Then I met my new best friend.
Like the show, this person came to national prominence in the 1990s. You could find both this person and any of the show’s leads on magazine covers in those days, though I can assure you they wouldn’t have been the same publication. Someone I once knew was downright obsessed with the show, attending (well, crashing) dozens of tapings when that person worked on the Warner Brothers lot and would gleefully describe the absolute joy they felt by somehow winding up backstage behind a flat while scenes were being filmed. I never got any closer myself than being in the audience for one of the show’s last episodes, The One Where Joey Speaks French (S10/E13, if you’re keeping track). Watching my psuedo-namesake Matt chug a full gallon of milk in one take was comic genius, and one of the genuinely few enjoyable evenings I spent in that person’s company.
But thanks to my new best friend, I honestly don’t watch a lot of those reruns any more. I LIVE. As close to the way they live, within the boundries of age and gender, of course. Because the way my new best friend lives is INSPIRING. And the exact opposite of what I had come to settle for with those who I thought had been my friends, and sometimes, perhaps more.
Today’s my best friend’s birthday. I wish more than anything I could be with this person, treating them like the royalty I know they are. Having a really decadent meal, perhaps with a chauffeured ride, and a day of pampering. My gratitude for this person’s presence in my life knows no limits. The wisdom, resillience, ingenuity, curiosity and fortitude they display on a daily basis is compelling. If you have ever felt so strongly for someone in your life who you believed was your best friend, you might have some idea of how disappointed I am that today we are geographically as far apart as we are on most other days.
Which makes the lyrics to the show’s theme, a tune I could never get out of my head for decades, all the more apropos and poignant. I know you know the song; heck, even people who were babies when the show was produced know it these days; thank you, Netflix and (HBO?) Max. It was number one on the charts the same year my best friend reached the pinaacle of their fame. But have you READ the lyrics?
So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but
I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)
Well, I sure wish the first stanza wasn’t as true as it is today. Nor do I wish the second line of the second were true, either (it’s gonna be pouring here very soon, much as it often does where my best friend lives). But as for the rest…well…
For anyone who thinks they know how to define a friendship…nary a day goes by where my best friend doesn’t begin their day, whenever that may be (like me, they often do their best work at night) and text me something to the effect of “Good Morning, Mr. Awesomeness”. Yes. I’ll allow you to know my best friend is female, though honestly it shouldn’t matter to anyone what gender someone who chooses to offer those kind of thoughts to someone who truly needs to hear it is. Trust me, that’s WAY better than a male who claimed to be my best friend ever did, or seems to even have the capacity to do.
As for my response–well, let’s just say it’s a tad more personal. It’s a code, which I’ll cryptically reference as “GM, MBGOE”. One day, you might learn it, if you care to. If you do, I’ll sincerely hope there’s someone in your life that offers similar thoughts to you.
And then we somehow soldier through our days, despite whatever pain, disappointment or rejection we might otherwise face. And then I think of a later stanza of the extended version of the song:
No one could ever know me
No one could ever see me
Seems you’re the only one who knows what it’s like to be me
Someone to face the day with
Make it through all the rest with
Someone I’ll always laugh with
Even at my worst, I’m best with you, yeah
So for anyone who will dare to chastise me if when someone who can inspire that kind of loyalty asks me to help out with an occasional cup of coffee, tank of gas, or bag of pet food, and thinks that’s a reason to question my sanity, or for me to question the depth and reality and their friendship…well, to them I meekly offer—read those damn lyrics yourself.
My best friend has made me a better person, and a better judge of character. There are still some people in my past that I truly wish could be exemplary of that, and I’m ashamed to admit if one in particular ever showed a sign of such I’d be inclined to be forgiving. It’s my kryptonite, I know. But interestingly, yesterday someone who knew this particular individual as well as I did came back into my life. This person and I were on the outs, for many unfortunate reasons not worth rehashing. Fate somehow gave me a chance to apologize for any dumb things I may have said or done. And, thankfully, this person accepted. We caught up on all that had happened to us in the couple of years that had passed since we last saw each other. And I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was for this person to see how I had progressed, and how they reinforced that in spite of whatever that other person had attempted to do to undermine me–yes, the same person I’m still inclined to forgive, dammit–they thought I was indeed the better person of the two.
And today, while I’m unfortuately not seeing my best friend, I am finally getting together with a special friend from the past. This person has an interesting past as well, and knew me during my wilder days. I can’t wait to renew acquaitances with that person. Even the mere act of having lunch with a friend has become an ordeal in a world where isolation and selfishness seem to be the order of the day for those who once were supposedly closer.
And I continue to discover that there are other people who were far more distant friends–some of whom I’ve never met–that were willing to help me in the same manner that I have chosen to help my friend when I’ve had the ability to do so. That damn link I keep referencing. It’s at the bottom once again. Occasionally some of you are kind enough to click on it, read more somber and sordid details of my situation, which at least in that manner don’t seem to be improving quickly enough. I’m truly, eternally grateful to anyone who has responded with support.
And if you possibly can, join me in toasting my special, precious new best friend as she turns the calendar page to another year, though, trust me, you’d never believe how old she is if you saw them in person (and, no, I won’t dare tell you here!!!). My new best friend has taught me the true definition of friendship. Given me a capacity to love and appreciate and express in a way that I never dreamed was possible. Actually feel good enough about myself to be confident when I look in a mirror that I look halfway decent. I mean, “Mr. Awesomeness?” MOI??!!!
Happy and healthy and prosperous birthday, BFF. Rest assured, I’ll be there for you. ‘Cause you’re there for me, too. 🙂
Until next time…
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