When you choose your friends, don’t be short-changed by choosing personality over character — W. Somerset Maugham
I’d like to think that the people I am close to, are folks with character. Yes, they have personality, and some of them, have it more than others. To be honest, they need a little bit of character to put up with my shenanigans.
The folks in my life have proven that they will step up to the plate when I’m in some sort of tailspin. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago, I found out who were my friends. And each one of them will always be my friend.
My best friend, Ali, has tons of character. She also has tons of personality. The tons of personality is bonus. And the thing is I only met her nine or ten years ago through the News Photographers Association of Canada. My mind is a little fuzzy whether or not we first met just before the cancer diagnosis or just after. I find I’m not one for micro details. I remember what my mind chooses to automatically remember. Initially, our interactions were limited to phone calls whenever there was things to discuss regarding the organization. Our conversations were easy. We clicked. We slipped into each other’s lives without much fanfare but made up for it when our mutual friends would stare at us in astonishment over our brand of insanity. One such friend always looked forward to being entertained whenever Ali and I would start something that no one else had the nerve to finish. Filter? What filter?
Some folks believe you meet your best friend/s somewhere during your formative years before technically becoming an adult. That was never true for me. I had friends. But I also had false friends (have the personality but no character whatsoever— something you eventually discover when things go sideways). Having false friends made me think that the truly dependable, got-your-back kind of friends were still out there and I would find them once I had gone through the education system which included university. I was kind of singular-minded back then. I still might be. It was education first, life after.
So, I made no effort to stay in touch with 99.9% of my classmates after high school graduation. Now, make that 100%. There was no bond. There was no connection. I never felt to the need to continue my association with any of them and clearly, the feeling was mutual.
Post-university and post college (for a diploma in photojournalism), I was still figuring out the friendship thing. And it turned out that for me, the majority of the folks who would be my life-long friends were the ones I met in my 30’s. But that doesn’t mean someone I will meet in six months or in two years couldn’t become a life-long friend. That door is always open to the right person.
Ali is proof that a best friend or a true friend isn’t someone you meet as a child or as a teenager. Your best friend isn’t the person you’ve known the longest. It just means that person has known you the longest which does not mean they know everything about you.
I don’t know how to describe Ali other than she gets me. She’s seen the best and the worst of me and still loves me unconditionally. And I feel the same way about her. If either one of us did something immoral or illegal, being judgmental is the last thing we would be with each other. We’d call each other out on our shit but be judgmental? Never. Upon being informed of the questionable deed that was done, I believe a round of psychotic laughing from both of us would ensue, followed by “Fuck, I wish I had been there to see that.” That’s how we roll when we’re together. Good thing, we live in different parts of the country. All sorts of crazy would erupt if we lived in the same geographical location.
The reason I’m yapping about best friends is because I had the pleasure of talking to her over the phone not once, but twice in two days last week. Those phone calls were not 15 minutes bites of time. Total time spent laughing, bitching and guffawing about all sorts of shit — 2-1/2 hours. Good thing we both have decent long-distance plans. When we’re not on the phone, we still communicate via email and texting. But a satisfying gabfest over the phone is the best… unless the gabfest is in person. That takes top spot because wine and food is usually involved.
During this latest gabfest, she had to talk me off the ledge over an ongoing issue I have — something which I have no plans to discuss here. She never fails to make me feel better, and smile and laugh by the end of our conversations. She didn’t disappoint this time either. She’s good for that… helping you find a way to laugh when the last thing on your mind is to laugh. Frankly, I do the same thing for her. We arouse each other’s propensity to be silly. Whereas other folks try very hard to arouse our usually dormant desires to be homicidal. Everybody has a homicidal streak. No point in denying it.
The gabfest completely spoiled us just because we’ve never had the opportunity to indulge in two lengthy phone calls — one lasting over 50 minutes and the other lasting a little over 90 minutes — in one week.
I appreciate her presence in my life. When I feel no one gets who I am, I know she gets me. Having one person who gets you is everything. And she is everything I could ever want in a best friend. A true friend.