Happy National Best Friends Day! (No, really. It is!) When it comes to major life transitions and decisions about careers, romantic entanglements, sexual dilemmas, health, and possibly marriage or motherhood, who’s got your back, ladies? That’s right, your girlfriends. In our lives we can’t cast the perfect variety pack of girlfriends, as the creators of “Sex and the City” did – nor would we want to, as gradually getting to know each other is the best part of a relationship – though, if we’re lucky, we do have different kinds of friendships we’ve accumulated over the years to suit the very different aspects of our complex lives. There are eight types of friendships I’ve cultivated that have been essential to my growth as a person. Too bad all these ladies don’t live locally (because a posse would be so nice!), so that I could get them together at the Sunday brunch table, but I can keep them on speed dial.1. A Playmate-Turned-Lifemate: If we’re lucky, we have a best friend who’s known us since forever—yes, a BFF. You know, the friend who knew you when you tucked your jeans into your socks, wore head gear and liked Def Leppard, or maybe even when you still sucked your thumb. You’ve seen each other grow up and no matter how different your lives are now – one of you could have three kids and a house in the country, while the other could be single and live in the city – you’ll always know where you came from and are reminders to each other of how far you’ve come. And you’ll always know, deep down, what insecure, goofy dorks you both are.
2. A Fellow Alum: Never mind the roommates we couldn’t stand, most of us had at least one college roommate who became a buddy for the ages. And of course she did, because you went through adult life boot camp together – surviving all-nighters, near-starvation, college hookups and breakups—and had to talk a lot ‘cause you didn’t have a TV. Of course there were fights, too. (She’s not your mother — clean the mini-fridge yourself!) You’ll never experience such an intense period of growing up ever again, though you’ll always have this friend as a witness of the transformation.
3. A Fierce Bitch: If you’re lucky, you have that friend who doesn’t want to hear the B.S. when you chitchat. She only wants to know how you’re really doing, ‘cause she wants to help if you’re not doing so hot. My friend Sally, an artist I became close with after writing a profile on her for a magazine, credits “her ladies” with getting her through the tough spots in life and she’s at the ready with a pep talk or the straight dope whenever we need it. She’s told me that I am amazing and that I deserve better so many times that now believe her.
4. A Free Spirit: She doesn’t have to drive a Prius, be a vegan, or be a medical marijuana grower in California—but she could! This friend makes you feel more alive when she breezes through town and makes you question your life choices, in a good way, when you catch up on the phone. She travels to Asia, Africa, all over the world, can’t read enough, has a voracious thirst for learning about the world, lives on her own terms, and she keeps you on your toes. She is the friend who makes you question what you believe in, culturally and politically, and who sometimes changes your mind for the better.
5. A Domestic Goddess: This is a friend who doesn’t get caught up in the rat race, isn’t desperately looking for her truth and really doesn’t deal with drama. Instead she’s invested in her backyard garden, brewing beer in her bathtub and inviting friends over for hot cocoa. Her house is a haven for many, a warm, cozy, and peaceful retreat. Whenever I spend time with my domestic goddess friend, I remember that the simplest pleasures in life — friends, food and drink — should be the most treasured. There is a lot to learn from someone who relishes living simply.
6. Opposites Attract: Every girl needs a friend to be the yin to her yang. While I’m a flighty, sensitive art major/writer who doesn’t always pay her bills on time, I have a friend who is a shark of a corporate lawyer who always asks me about the bottom line when I’m trying to make a decision. And in turn, I help her weigh the emotional ramifications of her choices. There are genius moments when we complete each other, when we’re not annoyed by how flaky/uptight the other is.
7. A Woman Of A Certain Age: Every woman needs an older friend at every stage of her life, a woman who’s “been there, done that” and can give advice on a major life decision that she’s already made. In high school one of my best friends was the woman I babysat for. She often would give me her own version of the “It gets better” talk – which my melodramatic 16-year-old self needed to hear. One of my dearest friends now, who in her mid-40s is 10 years my senior, is juggling a career, marriage, a kid and a sick parent. While I can’t imagine what that life stage feels like, I have a sense because of knowing her — and know I can talk to her when I get there.
8. She’s Just A Girl: In return, it’s important to be a mentor to a younger woman and to cultivate a deep friendship, when you can, as an older sis type. I have one friend in particular to whom I can now dole out my “been there, done that” advice, and trust me, it makes me feel just as rejuvenated to give the advice as she feels to receive it. Sharing my wisdom with someone younger reminds me of what I’ve learned along my own life journey. Also: my younger girlfriend makes me feel younger, too, by letting me in on the latest trends in fashion, music, youth culture, and slang. And that’s kind of “amazeballs.”
Are there any types of friendship I left off the list? Do tell in the comments!