When I was 13 I met my soulmate. In the nearly 13 years since, we’ve learned to navigate the difficulties that come with a long-distance relationship.
Sarah came into my life at summer camp, my favorite two weeks of the entire year. We were both seasoned veterans, but had never been in the same session before. I was fighting the battles of being an angsty 13-year old girl who really hated her new stepdad and Sarah was the beacon of light I didn’t know I needed.
In grade school, I was small, quiet, and an easy target for mean girls. More often than not, I depended on my brother and his friends to make sure I had somewhere to sit at lunch that wasn’t the bathroom. But summer camp was always different, it was more home than anywhere else. Even today, a decade after my last camp summer, two of the friendships I hold closest were forged in those freezing, occasionally spider-filled cabins.
Female friendships get a lot of flack – a lot of girls proclaiming that they only hang out with guys, as if it’s a badge of pride to not like your own. Guy friends are great, they are easy, hilarious, and valuable in their own right, but as a female, there is nothing more rewarding than the friendship you create with other females. They are the people you divulge every important and equally unimportant detail to. They strengthen you, champion you, and reward you. They understand the thoughts you try to lock deep away in your mind. Yes, they can be as fragile as any romantic relationship and, at their worst, just as crushing — actually, far more crushing. At their best, however, they are everything. Besides, your male friends certainly won’t help you destroy the patriarchy.
Over the last 13 years, Sarah has become less of a friend and more of an extension of myself. She is as much my best friend as she is my sister and my wife all mixed into one. She is not so much a person I choose to have in my life but a requirement to my existence. I am proud of the friendship we’ve created in the same way I am proud of all the things I make – I want to show it off to the world shouting, “look, look at this, we made this! We invented a language that only we understand. We are early mornings, late nights, champagne-filled laughter, and three too many pizzas.”
People come into your life as quickly as they leave it — sometimes the wrong people stay too long and the right people take their sweet time showing up. When those right people finally do arrive, it’s hard to imagine a version of your life without them.
My second camp-forged love — also named Sarah because why have one great Sarah when I could have two (I actually have three, because my awe-inspiring and fierce cousin is named Sarah. All the important women in my life are named Sarah.)—was weaved in and out of my life, reuniting in college, becoming my hockey game partner, moving to the same city thousands of miles away from our home, and cementing herself in my daily life, in constant communication, where I often forget there were years when we lost touch, but am more grateful for the way the universe puts people into our lives, the ones who come back and stay forever. She is the constellation in the night sky that I thought I’d never find, the feeling of drying off from the pool on warm summer cement, and discovering that there is a bottle of champagne in my fridge after all.
I am fiercely protective of all my female friendships — they lift me up, ground me, champion me, and give me a feeling of gratefulness I never thought I’d have. They have taught me to let go of the friendships that are no longer serving me, no longer bringing me joy, encouraging me to be nicer to myself by taking the often times hard and painful step of removing those someones from my life. At the same time, they have taught me to fight for the people that fill me up and do bring me joy. They show up for me when I need them to show up, usually before I’ve realized that they are needed. They show up without needing to be asked, knowing that the asking can be the hardest part. They show up in their unique ways, in stupid and perfectly insensitive jokes, loving but honest advice, care packages, and just existing as a shoulder, a piece of strength, an endless amount of love, and a reminder that I am enough. They let me be who I am, in the moment that I need to be in, in the mental state that I am stirring in, in the world that I am making my way through.
I’m often asked to write about what makes me feel beautiful. Not so much because I am me, but more because that’s a prompt we as women are often given. When do you hear about a man telling you what makes him feel beautiful? (Something I am totally interested in knowing, by the way.) Here’s the thing, I don’t feel beautiful because of my blue eyes, or when I have an exceptionally good hair day, or when I’m really rocking an outfit and I know everyone else knows it. I mean, those things certainly don’t hurt but I wouldn’t say they make me feel my most beautiful. What I’ve come to find is what makes me feel beautiful isn’t anything that I myself am, but who I am because of the women in my life. They make me feel beautiful: in their unconditional support, love, and lack of any judgement.
At my best, my worst, and every feeling in between. I am because they are.
Featured image found here