May 18, 2012

Is the Era of Best Friend Over? ~ Danya Uriel Rivlin

Photo: Electron

The lonely path of parenthood.

I ask this not as a rhetorical question. Please believe me when I say I am sincerely bereft.

My beloved husband told me last night that he doesn’t know anyone our age who actually has the sort of best friend that I constantly describe longing for. In his estimation this type of intimacy might just be incompatible with the phase of life we’re in.

It’s “nothing personal” he said, there’s just not enough time, not enough space, too hard to schedule, too many other demands, doesn’t line up with kids, marriage, professional ambitions and all the rest.

In my fairly short life of 34 years thus far, I have been unimaginably blessed with the experience of having had more than a dozen best friends. Over the years, these passionate platonic love affairs have been shining sources of inspiration, sanity and belonging.

Photo: Niko Latsky

Let me explain.

These are the handful of girls, now women, for whom I would have laid down my life.

These ones kept safe (at least for a time) my daily secrets, my excruciating hopes and my tender fears—they knew the exact color and flavor of my longings, could interpret precisely the exact timbre of my laughter. . . as I could theirs. As early as age four, my first best friend and I held tiny hands as we tromped through chest high grasses chasing the end of a rainbow and whispering our secret wishes.

Later, over decades, games were played, notes were passed, dances attended, dorm rooms decorated, first jobs endured, glasses of champagne lifted. Even after I was firmly on my way to being a respectable “grown-up” I still had friends who rocked me like a baby, night after night, through the worst of a terrible break-up. These were friends that some people spend an entire lifetime hoping for and still never find—yet through no particular merit of my own, I did.

I know how lucky I’ve been. . . . I really do. . . it almost seems like a kind of gluttony to wish for more now. . . but still, here I am. . .

I have been without any best friends for several years now.

Photo: Electron

Really and truly living without them.

Some have moved away and I have waved with clenched teeth as they drove off in U-hauls. Others have lifted up gently on airplanes, crossing state lines and country borders, traveling swiftly to meet their destinies.

Sometimes I’ve been the one to move, my own shaking hands gripping the steering wheel as my loves grew small in the rearview mirror. Two of my best friends have left their bodies already, tragically, suddenly and much too young, teaching my cracked heart that there are never any guarantees. Sometimes life just pulled us in different directions—and I am culpable for letting the space grow and grow as years passed so quickly.

Most of these delightful women are just Busy (with a capital “B”) like I am—Life is so full with partners, new babies, careers, PhDs, travels, amassing fortunes or following spiritual directives to give everything away.

They are far flung around the globe and exhausted with the overwhelm of this modern world. I hear it in their harried voices on the phone when we talk for a stolen two minutes until they have to go attend to an urgent business deal or a poopy diaper blowout.

Photo: Electron

I see their gorgeous, still-radiant faces come across my computer screen sometimes in the briefest of Facebook updates and feel momentarily confused.

The lines of time and space get blurry and I am 16 again. It is hot smoky summer, the windows of that old Datsun are rolled down, and we are driving fast and singing at the top of our lungs. . . I am literally there with her in an instant and even though we haven’t spoken outside of online status updates in nearly 10 years, my ribs ache with the laughing.

Then my daughter’s cry jolts me swiftly back and the fog clears. I close the computer with a firm click, take a breath and walk away to tend to my small sweet girl.

Let me say this: I married my true love and my gratitude for this could never be expressed in mere words. I have a child who is nearly exploding with health and vitality, a warm home, a small garden full of vegetables, armfuls of frivolous fragrant flowers and an extended family that loves me. I am grateful for more than my fair share of goodness at this time of my life.

But the relationships I have now are of a different variety completely from the best friend I’m wishing for—comparing the two is like apples to spaghetti squash.

Photo: Wingchi

So, still I wake up lonely every day, hoping that my dear husband is mistaken. . . praying that somehow the next era of my friends and our adventures will go far beyond making small talk at Gymboree.

If I am fortunate, I still have many years of living left and I just know I can’t go on much longer without laughing with you every day.

I’ll say it again: I cannot do this thing without you.

Sometimes I’m going to have to call you at midnight. Sometimes we’ll have to leave the kids at home and drive all night with no destination. I’m going to come over every morning, so expect me. I promise to pick up your favorite muffin on my way, if you’ll have coffee with extra cream waiting for me.

My god, we have so, so much to talk about!


When Danya isn’t trolling Boulder playgrounds looking for new mommy friends willing to look up from their iPhones and make actual human contact, she is traveling around the world leading funky-sacred chanting with her husband (www.HebrewChanting.com) or talking to people about regaining their health and vitality through radical raw nutrition (www.SeaandHoneybee.com).


Editor: Elysha Anderson


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