My daughter gave me a green rubber BFF bracelet tonight as I towel-dried my hair. She was wearing a matching pink one. A made-for-the-big-screen moment. Next year's blockbuster titled "A Maman and Her Kiddo Against the World". I was moved to tears.
She then told me she was sorry that she'd had to give the blue (my favorite color) rubber BFF bracelet to Smilin' Vic because he liked that color best. The flow of tears ebbed, but I was still quite chuffed. We'd simply change the title to "The Gypsy Clan Take on the ME."
She then pulled out another FIVE rubber BFF bracelets that she proudly announced she would distribute tomorrow at school to her other BFF's.
The air of novelty and uniqueness pretty much wore off as it dawned on me that the rubber BFF band was more akin to a street gang tat' than a promise of undivided and lifelong commitment. Quick thinking was in order if I was to get anything out of this moment: let's make it a straight-to-video release titled "Another Maman Exclusivity Bubble goes 'POP'"!
But once again my insightful seven-year-old got me thinking. Thinking about my own friends, and what makes them unique. Thinking about what makes a friend a 'Friend'. Thinking about what my BFF is all about ...
I've been asked a few times if it gets harder to make friends as an expat as you get older (hmmmmmph!). Other than being mortally offended at the assumption that I am conforming to the human aging process, I've never really given much thought to the question. I've never really stopped to think much about how friends are made, whether in the West or in the ME.
The thing is, I'm not generally the type to run with a posse. I have what I consider a fair number of great friends spread across the globe, but I am definitely not Miss Popularity, nor am I the life of the party. I don't gravitate towards most people naturally, nor they to me. I have in fact been referred to as somewhat standoffish. Most of my friendships have actually started off very badly indeed.
But somehow I do end up making and keeping lifelong friends. Friends that I cherish. Friends that have helped define my past, get me through the present, and carry me into the future. And my daughter really got me thinking tonight:
"Who ARE these women?"
And what makes them so special?
There is the cousin from forever. I remember her biting me hard on the shoulder when we were both about 4, and I reciprocated by hitting her on the head with one of those wooden toy phones with a dolly that would pop out the top. Once that was settled we went right back to making cheese melties in her Easy Bake oven. Much of our childhood was spent concocting devious plans against her brother, like stuffing popcorn up his nose as he slept. We later became blood sisters. Ours is a bond that can't be explained. I chalk it down to knowing I can always count on her to play Barbies with me no matter how many times I bonk her with a plastic baseball bat. Our friendship is truly unconditional.
She is steadfast.
Then there is the childhood expat friend from Grade 4. The one whose idea I stole. Back in 1979, when we still wrapped our classroom books in brown kraft paper. I was seated next to her in Miss Gulacci's class, surreptitiously eyeing her book wrapping technique. Whereas every other kid in class simply taped the paper to the inside of the book cover with masking tape, she wrapped the masking tape artistically and diagonally around each outside corner of the book cover. Her solution was not only artistic, but much more resilient. I shamelessly copied her technique, then proceeded to receive Mrs. Gulacci's undivided and glowing praise at my extreme creativity. It was not the best of starts to a friendship. But somehow, a bond was firmly cemented. She is the friend who used to ride horses bareback with such abandon, the friend who had a houseful of exotic pets, the friend who introduced me to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" when we were 11. Our friendship is largely built on my awe and amazement of her.
She is unique.
There is the friend from high school. The one whose boyfriend I dated. In fairness, I didn't know they were dating at the time ... Another friendship off to a rocky start. We ended up rooming together for four years in university. She is the one who I can share ANYTHING with and NEVER feel judged. The one who simply, really, truly 'gets' me. The one I can go for months without talking to and then start off right from where we stopped last time. She is my left lung, my sister from another mother.
She is true.
There is the friend from university who studied with me, shared with me, laughed with me, cried with me. She is the one who introduced me to the wonders of dipping battered onion rings into vinegar and gravy. She is the one who would always drop anything to come join me for a coffee.
She is compassionate.
There is the friend who worked with me and counseled me and largely carried me through the breakup of my first marriage. She is the one who would open her door for me at any time of night or day.
She is loyal.
There is the childhood expat friend who met up with me in Europe THIRTY years after we'd seen each other last.
She is amazing.
There is the friend who has survived unbearable loss and is making the world a better place because of it.
She is unbelievable.
There is the friend who drops the "f" bomb in every sentence without offending me somehow.
She is hilarious.
There is the 'shy' friend who revels in sharing the best parts of Shades of Grey during girls' night out.
She is surprising.
There is the glamorous friend with perfect glossy hair, a body that rivals Halle Berry's, a heart that cannot stop giving and a conviction that no one should leave her house until they've had at least one shot of vodka straight from the freezer.
She is beautiful.
Thank you kiddo, for getting me to stop for a moment to think about each of these women, and about so many others. To think about what makes them so special, each on their own and all together. Because none of the women in my life, none of my friends, is only that one bolded statement. Each of them is a little bit of every single one. Yet each of them is unparalleled.
So, go ahead. Ask me about my BFF.
She is one of these, she is all of these. She is steadfast, unique, true, compassionate, loyal, amazing, unbelievable, hilarious, surprising, and beautiful.