with five friends
I am five colours
though, all shades
of emerald green.
—alexandrite & mystic topaz, from in transit
matcha tea & bibimbap / sorry, Mr. Leeberman
I met my first best friend, or at least the first best friend I can remember, in third grade. We hung out a few times at recess and sat together to read the same book. We were very similar but also very different and I realized we were best friends when she invited me to steal candy from my teacher’s drawer. She knew exactly where he kept it and would take a few pieces here and there for herself, but this time she invited me to join her. Although my ideas of right and wrong were a bit more skewed at the time, I do remember thinking, “She shared this with me.” All this candy for yourself and you’ve decided to share. The choice of sharing over selfishness: is that friendship? I mean, this anecdote definitely has its layers, but it makes me think of friendship and this idea of sharing wealth without obligation. Generosity. By wealth, I don’t mean money, but I do mean treasure: as in things you know, stories you’ve read, food you’ve eaten, movies you’ve watched—sharing whole-heartedly without obligation. And in this age of cynicism, capitalism and a culture of unkindness, isn’t that remarkable?
Best friend: A noun for a new relative, one chosen, vetted and kept. Compound (bestfriend), hyphenated (best-friend), abbreviated (BFF), same difference. Someone once corrected my use of “bestfriends” —plural —“How can you have 2?” The same way you can have 2 siblings, 2 cats, and 3 chairs at a small table. The plural only seems incorrect because it’s a miracle that you’d get so lucky to find more than one person to call “bestfriend.”
The friendship equivalent of an engagement ring. A vow to laugh, fight and fall together. Some bracelets are braided, woven, chain-linked —some bracelets are necklaces, anklets, coffee mugs that say “BFFL” or “my ride or die.” Some are matching tattoos or gag gifts you hate, but love.
A friend once told me that she knew someone was her best friend when she could go to their house, with the intention of hanging out, and fall asleep on their couch. I call this best-friend-hood: when you transcend friendship and become family. Your house is their house and vice versa.
It’s really nice to have people who didn’t grow up with you but love you like they did. They have all these experiences you don’t, all these stories to share and so much heart and hilarity. It’s this beautiful mixture of sibling, stranger and teacher. You both explore life together: call each other out, cry on each other’s shoulder, build each other up. You get and give something to friendship, and it isn’t draining —atleast it shouldn’t be—You give and you gain and you’re better as a result.