Sunday, July 31, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

This post is dedicated to one of my girlfriends--my best friend, actually.  We've both been having a rough time of it recently, with money and a bright outlook for the future often in short supply. But we're there to support each other as we chase our dreams and that's what matters.  I want her to know that no matter what happens with jobs and money, at least we'll always have each other.  

Here's the kind of friend Yan is:  she willingly agreed to be my date for my ten-year college reunion.  Who else but an amazing friend would subject herself to that kind of torture?

Yan, this one's for you.  

Long-lasting friendships are rare--for me, anyway.  It always seems that misunderstandings over boys, money, and lifestyles get in the way and eventually tear something down that once seemed invincible.  I had one particularly bad split with a former roommate who didn't approve of the guy I was dating (and married), or the fact that I ran off to Vegas to marry him without telling anyone.  While I can definitely understand that she was hurt when I didn't tell her about it, I can honestly say that I didn't even tell my own parents about it ahead of time.  I had to call them after getting back from Vegas and tell them I was *married.*  To a guy they'd met *once.*  In a close-knit family like mine, that call was torture.

I could have been ostracized or yelled at or disowned.  But was I?  No.  My family loves me, and they may not have understood why or how I did what I did, but they rolled with the punches and trusted my judgment. Every grandparent, aunt, uncle, and cousin has accepted Paul into the family with warmth and generosity.  And of my best friends couldn't do the same thing.  That still hurts, to this day.

I don't feel an obligation to live my life as an open book to everyone around me--we all have things we need to work out on the inside, on our own, before sharing them.  Honesty is a good thing and should be valued, but never at the expense of your sense of self.  When it came to marrying Paul, it was this strange but magical moment that just happened.  One moment, in all of life, where only two people exist.  And I took hold of that moment, seizing it for all it was worth.  When it was time to come down from that high, I looked around for a handhold and the people who I'd left behind.  Almost all of them welcomed me back.  Almost.

It takes a special kind of friend to roll with those punches and accept others for who they are--even when they do things you don't like or approve of.  Yan is one of those very special people.

We met when the University of California paired us as roommates.  At first, all we knew about each other was a name and an address.  As we wrote to each other and then finally met on the dorm's move-in day, it became clear to both of us that we were a lot alike.  Both vulnerable, deep thinkers, and self-confessed late bloomers, we went through so many growing pains together during those four years of college.  During and since college, we've had periods where we don't speak.  Sometimes those periods lasted for years.  Even when we weren't speaking, though, I always knew we'd reconnect.  I knew we'd never be out of each other's lives for good.  We were too alike and had been through too much together to throw in the towel.

Essentially, we had to go out and live our lives.  We had to make mistakes.  We had to have opportunities missed, relationships ruined, and tears cried to fully understand where the other was coming from.  But now that we've weathered those storms, I know our friendship is stronger than ever.

That's why I know that even if our dreams don't come true quite the way we want, we'll still be there to help each other through the fallout.  If I never become a published writer, it's okay.  I know she's still got my back.  As long as I want to strive for it, I know Yan is there to tell me she believes in me, 110 percent.  She's my biggest supporter, in fact!  And if her boutique doesn't take off the way she wants it to, it's okay because I've still got her back!  I'll be there to tell her she's still one of the bravest people I know for even trying it.

The great thing about Yan is her ability to grab the bull by the horns (or by the balls, if you've seen Never Been Kissed).  If she wants something, she'll fight for it.  And if it doesn't work out, she'll sit back and analyze the situation to figure out why.  She thinks about things--the causes of things.  She uses what she's learned, about people and situations.  She looks for the positive and the bright side, but she doesn't back down from the darker side of things, either.  She can see your side of the issue even if she doesn't agree with you, but she's not afraid to tell you you're wrong.  

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have Yan in my life.  She's funny, beautiful, smart, insightful, dedicated, and a constant inspiration. There is no one better to have in your corner.  Yan, I love you, girl.  I honestly don't know where I'd be without you.  I miss the days when we'd sit on your balcony in Marin, drinking wine or cocktails, and wondering where the hell our lives were going....after we came back from a shopping spree at Ross or Marshalls, of course.

There's a questionnaire on the last page of every issue of Vanity Fair, called the "Proust Questionnaire." One of the questions asks you when and where you were most happy.  I think those weekends in Marin with you would be my answer.  Shopping, eating, drinking cocktails, analyzing boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, watching Sex and the City...I don't think it could ever get better than that. You, my friend, are when and where I was most happy.

Now, if you've gotten all the way to the end of this post and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please go say  hi to Yan at her boutique!  Tell her I sent you.

Yan's Fashion Sense at 1324 Noriega, between 20th & 21st Avenue
*on Yelp
*on Facebook