“That’s what makes it so easy for me to be 85% happy for Chandler and Monica.”
(Joy will get that joke.)
Over the last few months, and increasingly since the actual wedding last weekend, I have gotten asked some variation of the same question from friends, family, co-workers, random baristas at Starbucks to whom I gushed about my best friend’s impending nuptials. It is usually something along the lines of, “Are you really jealous?” and/or, “Are you ready for things to change?”
I am not sure if the jealousy question is me specific, if I seem like the type of person to be jealous of someone else’s happiness (ouch) or if it is simply the question leveled at all single, childless best friends of women getting married. At first it bothered me. I won’t pretend I didn’t take it rather personally. What kinda person do people think I am?!
But eventually, I realized that more often than not, the people inquiring about the internal level of my jealousy towards my only childhood friend getting prepared to marry the love of her life A. did not know me well. B. did not know our almost two decade long friendship. And C. were generally the type to assume that the overarching goal in every woman’s life is to get married and have babies and buy a house in the ‘burbs and plant a tomato garden or whatever the fuck it is that those women do. So they couldn’t understand my point of view anyway.
But then there is the question of change.
Personally, being a creature of change, I don’t quite understand people’s aversion to it. And the simple fact of the matter is my best friend and I have been friends for more than half our lives; our lives have been nothing BUT change. So it is not entirely out of the prevue of our friendship that things change, we grow and adapt.
And to take it a step further, maybe this situation is unique. Perhaps there is a subset of people whose best friends have met someone in the last few years for whom they have altogether neglected them for, and then shown up wearing a diamond and wanting parties thrown in their honor to be organized by their abandoned friend. But this is not that. Firstly because my best friend’s now husband has been around for ten years; almost as long as we’ve been friends. And she has not ever unceremoniously abandoned me or her own life for his. There’s never been any doubt for the larger part of ten years that these two would be married. So, maybe on some level I’ve already prepared myself for these looming changes and the wedding just made them official. I expect that some of what I tell her about my life will make it to his ears. I expect that she will want to include him in some of the things we do. I expect that there will be some things she will tell him, go through with him, experience with him that she will not share with me. The great news is that my best friend has chosen an amazing man to marry, who can be trusted with the intimacies of our relationship, who is fun to spend time with, and will support her in my stead.
That means, for the most part, our relationship as best friends must take a back seat to their relationship as husband and wife.
And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
In youth, we might be all ovaries before brovaries (© Kit over at Hello Drunky), but the reality is that when we grow, when we find someone to share our lives with, in the confines of matrimony or out, by the very necessity of nurturing that relationship, our priorities must change. And your real friends, the ones who have grown past the adolescent girl code, will understand this preemptively and respect the necessity of the change.
The fact of the matter is I adore my best friend to the ends of the earth and back. And she has found a man who loves her just as much, if not more. They have pledged their lives to each other and soon, after some time to enjoy being married, will start giving me nieces and nephews I can spoil rotten and dress up in various ensembles bearing adorable monkeys. On Saturday, my best friend’s face lit up in a way I have never seen in 16 years of friendship. She was positively radiant. THAT is the change I’m interested in. I am not particularly concerned with whether or not I will have to start calling and texting her at respectable hours now that they share a home.
I understand, in the most basic way, why people ask the questions. But to do so illustrates a profound misunderstanding of who we have been and continue to be to each other. Just as she bought a plane ticket she likely couldn’t afford to come proudly watch me graduate from Howard without a trace of envy that she herself had not yet graduated, I was honored to stand up with her at her wedding crying like a baby without a binkie, and witness her marry this man she loves so much. We don’t begrudge each other our happiness just because we have not attained it ourselves. Because love is not jealousy encouraged by ego. It is travelling a couple hundred miles to wait on your best friend hand and foot, throwing her a party that may or may not have included straws shaped like penises and celebrating the first day of the rest of her life, that you get to share.