The Gold Standard of Friendship
Once upon a time a friend asked me to not ever write about her and with good reason. My immediate thought was, “I don’t have shit to write about you.” Regardless of us having memorable moments, it wasn’t anything I felt compelled to share with other people. I think her statement was said more out of joking than fear of possibly being written of unfavorably, but I was aware of what prompted her statement. A lot of my writing, up to that point, could be read as if nothing and no one was off limits. Unbeknownst to her, her words live rent free in my head, especially popping up when I want to get shit off my chest. I hear her half laughing, half shaky voice whenever I’m annoyed, angry, and contemplative and decide I need to write something in the moment. Her words have aided in me becoming a better writer and less of a shock jock.
Even though this starts out mentioning a friend who asked to not be written about (I’m hardheaded), it’s a segue into how much I appreciate another friend whose birthday happens to be today.
Friendship is displayed in such a performative manner with the rise of social media that it often reduces the meaningfulness of the word. Anyone can be considered besties if they take enough selfies together. Who we frequently, openly interact with online is often assumed to be who knows where all your dead bodies rest in peace. However, it is friends like this one I speak of that defines that old school, deep in your bones, more like family and ride/kill/live for you standard that has become a rarity.
Nothing about our friendship was forced and that explains her in a nutshell. She doesn’t force anything and that’s what makes her a joy to have been around for the last 20 years. Coming straight from California to Georgia, sticking out like a sore thumb with Rainbow Brightly colored hair, looking for employment in the corporate world, I could see “look at this nigga” all over her face as she took on my freak show ass at her place of employment. Even though the reality was I needed to change my hair to get a job in the Bible Belt, she focused on more important things like, “can you do the job?” That also speaks to her personality. She jokes a hell of a lot BUT her judgment is reserved for far more important things than personal opinions. She’s more interested in the core of things and people.
It’s one of the reasons I choose to be permanently fixed in her band of Merry (Wo)men. There’s more to her than effortlessly going with the flow and less judgment, more curiosity. Her love for music rivals that of a lot of musicians. I owe my love of Leisure Suite AND all things 2Chainz solely to her. She’s the type of person that doesn’t need a crowd of people to dance either. If a beat comes through, she got a bop for it that makes you want to move too. Another one of her infectious qualities is laughter. I can honestly say that I laugh everyday and most of it is because of something she’s sent me, said and/or done. She can dish it BUT she can also take it. There’s no limit to the number of times we’ve laughed (at each other) so hard our stomachs hurt and we’re in tears.
There’s no exaggeration when I say she’s the life of the party. If you don’t know this side of her, it’s because she has better uses for her energy or you just haven’t had the privilege of being in her company. She loves food with the same tenacity attached to her love of dancing and music. I don’t know of any food she isn’t willing to at least try. She makes some of the best oven pork ribs I’ve ever tasted and can make Glory greens taste like grandmotherly love. She flavors every inch of her food like she does her life. There are no measurements because it’s in the flick of her wrist.
How she loves matters even more to me than her love of music, dancing, and food.
I didn’t have to go find my love languages and give them to her for her to know how to love me. She just tuned in and while I’d like to selfishly claim this as OUR thing, this is how she loves anyone she loves. If she cares about you, she pays attention. So much so that we have never had an argument once. Imagine having a friendship for decades and never getting into it. She works to preserve the things that mean something to her and that includes the people in her life. Sometimes I think she’s too good for anyone in this world. There’s no way you can be friends with her and not be constantly reminded to do and be better. It doesn’t come from prodding but leadership and example.
She isn’t perfect but she legit doesn’t fuck up in ways that other people blame on “being human” so they don’t have to practice accountability. This isn’t a pedestal I’m unfairly putting her on either. She embodies the gold standard of friendship. When she fucks up, she apologizes. You don’t have to wait for her to acknowledge something’s off, she speaks up sometimes well before you get an opportunity to see the shift. She owns her shit. She communicates when she needs space in a way that doesn’t push people away but draws them closer. Her presence alone has reminded me that we will always need other people in our life.
She’s been a bright light on a lot of my darkest days and not by trying to push me to feel better. She just shows up and makes herself fully present. She does the same for my daughter so much so that my kid calls her Mom #2. She loves my daughter in the same way she loves me, from a personalized perspective. She pays the kid attention that a lot of adults think is only reserved for their peers. She makes you feel seen and in a world where you can be in a sea full of people and never be acknowledged, that’s saying a lot.
Did I mention she’s also a writer? She’s also made me a better writer but in ways that I think could only happen if you were my friend. We’ve even taken writing classes together, even though she’s hands down the superior writer. Speaking of superior, she’s also smart as all hell. She doesn’t flex her intelligence as some weapon to look down on others and it’s a reminder to practice true humility. She has multiple degrees that she legit never mentions when it comes to her life accomplishments because while it matters professionally, her humanity isn’t attached to what’s on paper. She isn’t ego driven in how she lives her life. She teaches me so much shit that I could never learn in any book.
Being a good human being is what I’ve learned to do the most by being in her company. I would say get you one of her, but she is the most legit example of being One of One. There’s no one like her in my life and I’m honored to celebrate another year of life with her as my friend. She’s proven to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had, not by heralding the title of Best Friend but by being the gold standard of friendship. So, while I will let the words of my other friend (“don’t write about me”) continue to remind me to be careful of what I write about my loved ones, I know that our words can also immortalize the people we love.
I choose to see the divine around me so how could I not see it when I look at her?
No one can fill her shoes and I look forward to more decades of celebrating a real ones life. Happy birthday to one of the greatest people I’ve ever known, God Auntie Mama Tam.