The older I get, the better I understand the importance of a best friend—or three. Besties are more than just good friends; they are the people who know you better than you know yourself. They’re your refuge when everything else feels like it’s going to hell. And while they take time to cultivate, in many ways, they’re the most effortless relationships of your life.
Depending on the year, they are as far away as a plane ride and as close as a walk across the room, but they’re always, always, just a phone call away when you can’t be together. And when too much time passes, because life gets in the way, you can pick up right where you left off, because time is meaningless where best friendships are concerned.
A bestie grown from childhood has her roots in a million passed notes, folded into footballs; in sleepovers and first crushes and bullies; in a wink across the room that she still teases you about. She remembers all your first boyfriends: the juvenile delinquent, the punk, the boys three and six years older than you whom she arguably was tougher on than your own father (and for good reason). She’s the one who stood with you in a stupidly long line to see Spiderman because you both had a crush on Tobey Maguire, and later, to meet Denis Leary, who’d taken Tobey’s place.
A bestie can also be grown later in life. She can be the woman you meet in college, two years apart, who couldn’t be more different yet has loved you just the same. They’re the ones with whom you study abroad, share dorm rooms, and hangovers, and heartaches. One is the reason your signature drink is a gin and tonic; the other why you’re spiritual. They are the ones for whom you would do anything, and who will do anything for you—whether it’s putting up with an intolerable boyfriend for years without complaint, or walking with you to the far dining hall so you don’t have to see him when he finally breaks your heart.
Your love for them is measured in different ways; in a shoebox stuffed with handwritten letters that has arrived dutifully for twelve years; in phone records of marathon calls; in a near-lifetime of photographs and memorabilia that carry you from single-digit birthdays to the terrifying unknown of your thirties.
Their love for you is measured in countless adventures, both ordinary and extraordinary; in helping pack up your apartment to move far away, because they know you’ll be happy; in picking up the phone any time of night. They mourn your losses so you don’t suffer alone, and celebrate your victories so the pleasure is double. Their love is in their forgiveness and understanding—even when you haven’t always deserved it. They embody the very meaning of unconditional love. They are, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and health, in good times and in bad, your besties.
Celebrate your best friend(s) with Leah Reena Goren’s beautifully illustrated, uncannily accurate ode to the greatest friendships in our lives, Besties.
Illustration: Marie Guillard