Underneath my yellow skin

A Tale of Two Best Friends

I met my bestie when we were both working at Katahdin (now extinct), me as a counselor in a day treatment program for juvenile delinquents*, and her as the administrative assistant. We were the only oddballs in the place, and we started talking during the annual Christmas lunch or some such. She had a tattoo (this was before I had mine), and she had been an English major in college. We really clicked, and we started hanging out outside of work. She did all the work in the beginning because I was deeply depressed and had a multitude of low-esteem issues. I couldn’t fathom she’d want me to bother her, and it took her asking me a year after we became friends if I wanted her to keep calling me to realize that she actually wanted to be friends. This was before Facebook, Twitter, and email were a daily thing with me, so I couldn’t even like one of her posts to let her know I was thinking of her.

We’ve seen each other through some difficult times, and we’ve seen how the other has grown in the past twenty-two years. I’ve called her the yang to my yin, the positive to my negative. She has a kid and gray hair now, and I have a cat and white streaks in my hair. When she lived here, we went out every few months, but it was comforting to know I *could* see her if I needed to in fifteen minutes or less.

One of our favorite things was to go out drinking** and dancing, and I vividly remember a time when we were both pretty sloshed and hungry after hours of dancing. We went to White Castle to get some sliders because that’s what you do when you’re drunk and need something to eat at two in the morning when everything else is closed. We took our sliders to the lake*** and walked on the shore as we ate. Suddenly, we both had to pee, and of course, there were no restrooms around. There was no on around, and it was dark, so we both found a semi-private spot and did our business. I accidentally peed on my foot, which struck me as hilarious.

I bring it up because I never would have done that without Kat, my partner in crime. She’s way more spontaneous than I am, and she can push me out of my comfort zone with little effort. She doesn’t live in state any longer, and we have to make a more conscious effort to keep in touch offline. We talk once every few months, and it’s as if we’ve never stopped talking. She is one of those people with whom it doesn’t matter how much time has passed–talking is as easy if not easier than when we first became friends.

She is an amazing woman in so many ways. She’s kindhearted, compassionate, passionate about equality and justice, especially in education (her specialty). She’s a loving mother, and a dedicated teacher at an alternative high school. She’s committed most of her adult years to helping kids who are at a disadvantage, and she practices what she preaches in her personal life.

She’s the one I go to if I need a nuanced take on an emotional issue, and I trust her to help me figure out the best approach to tackling it without being judgmental about it. I’ve always joked that when we’re eighty, we’ll be sitting side by side in a nursing home, both of us with our hearing aids turned down, loudly heckling the other inmates. That’s the kind of friendship we have, and I cherish it with all my heart.

My BFF, on the other hand, is a much more recent addition to my life. We connected on Twitter late one night when we were both going through a difficult period, him more so than I. We had been Twitter friends before then, but we mostly joked about politics and about him being my cabana boy. We started talking that fateful night, and we went through some really dark times together. Our friendship was forged in fire, and it’s stronger for it now, almost six years later.

I must confess, I had a crush on him when we first became friends. He was cute, smart, acerbic, politically-aware, and had a really cute gray cat whom he obviously adored. I met him in real life eight and a half months after we first started DM’ing, talking on the phone, and using Skype (both for messaging and for talking) on a daily basis. I confessed my feelings for him, and he said he didn’t feel the same way. We had to adjust to that, but we remained close friends. Over time, I came to realize we make better friends than lovers, and now we’re committed to each other in a way that I’ve never had with anyone else, any partner included.

From Ian, I’ve learned many things. One, how to have flaming arguments with someone and still remain friends. I’m more likely to withdraw into myself than to actually have a fight with someone, but as much as he and I talk, and as stubborn as we both are, it is inevitable that we’re going to butt heads now and again. He’s one of the few people I trust that I can explode at and he won’t go away.

We can talk about anything from politics to religion to race to video games and everything in between. We both tend to spend a lot of time in our own heads, and it helps to have someone with whom you can air out your viewpoints. Talking to him helps me shape my ideas. Even if I don’t change them, hearing counterpoints at least makes me examine my own biases.

Better yet, we can be in the same room and not have to talk. We’ve spent a fair amount of time in the same place, and I don’t feel tense having him around as I would with anyone else. It helps that we have similar energy levels (though his is slightly higher than my own), so we’re usually content with just chilling on our respective computers, periodically commenting on what we’re reading/doing/listening to. It’s just as chill as being by myself, which is the highest praise I can give to someone.

We’ve been there for each other through so much. He was here when my Raven died, and I don’t think I could have survived it without him by my side. I was so frantic and panicky as I drove us to the emergency vet, I probably would have driven off the road if he wasn’t there with his GPS. I’ll never forget the image of him trying to revive Raven before we left for the emergency vet or the sight of him digging up the small garden below my living room window so we could bury my Raven. He was my rock when I needed him, and I try to be the same for him.

In addition, he is my inspiration right now because he’s gone from writing for free for an online gaming site to doing an internship with Game Informer (in Minneapolis!) for three months, which is one of the largest gaming magazines in the world. Now, he’s actually getting paid for his gaming articles, and I couldn’t be prouder of him for how far he’s come. He’s shown me it’s possible to stick to your dreams or some version of your dreams and make it work. He’s also the one who introduced me to video games, and I jokingly call him my dealer. He is my touchstone, and I start every day by messaging him right after I finish my taiji routine.

I never would have thought it was possible to have two best friends, especially as I’m not someone who makes friends easily at all. I’m lucky to have two people like that in my life, and it’s one reason I’m not as keen about being in a romantic relationship as I might have been five or ten years ago. I like living alone, and I get my emotional needs met by them and my other friends. I know the two of them have my back no matter what.

What they don’t provide me, my third best friend, Shadow (my cat) does, and he’s the only one I really want to be around all the time. Right now, he’s napping on a blanket on the floor by my feet, which is his new favorite place to nap, and he’s so damn adorable. He’s slowly becoming more independent again after six months of being extremely clingy because his brother died. Right after Raven died, Shadow had to be around me all the time and got anxious if I left, even if it was to go out back to smoke. Now, he’ll spend hours either downstairs or on my computer chair in my computer room before running to me when he wants treats.

He gave me a scare the other morning. He’s taken to biting my face to wake me up. Not hard biting, but just gentle gnawing. If I cover my face with a blanket, he’ll either bump my face through the blanket with his head or he’ll nose his way under the blanket so he can gnaw at me again. One morning, he wasn’t there when I woke up. It was refreshing not to have to fend off my face from his hot salmon breath, but it was disconcerting because he should have been there. I got up and went to the kitchen, and he still didn’t appear. That really worried me because he’s a chubby boy who is extremely food-driven. I was just about to freak out when he came racing up the stairs as fast as his chubby little legs could take him, and he came running over to me, his fur all rumpled. I was so glad to see him, I didn’t even mind that he was meowing his head off until I fed him. He is my faithful companion, and I rely on him when I need a kiss and a cuddle.

My friends and my cat are all I need in my daily life. What I miss is the sex–that’s something I have to work on.



*One of our long-running jokes at that time was me calling them juvies as a term of affection, and her disapproving.

**Even when I actually drank, that meant one drink, two at the very most.

***I don’t remember which one; we have more than 12,000, you know.

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