Friendship! How do you even begin to describe what it means and how it feels? It’s like trying to explain the weather. The heat of the sun, the softness of the rain, clouds moving in the sky, the silence before a storm, the smell of snow -we all experience it differently. My husband frowns when he sees snowflakes, and I get a dreamy smile on my face.
There are so many different kinds of friendships. The first friend you meet in Kindergarten, the friends you make at your workplace, the friends you go dancing with, the ones you meet on vacations. Online friends, a new form of friendship I underestimated at first. My neighbor thinks I am her friend, and I suppose to a point I am.
I would help her and have helped her when she needed me, and she does the same. I listen when she needs to share. We don’t know each other’s birthdays, and we don’t care enough to ask. Yet, we are more than just neighbors.
There is a difference between friends and best friends. Friends are an addition to our lives, while best friends are a part of us. Our soulmate, the love of our lives. Phrases normally reserved for our partners, fit so perfectly.
Best friends are the ones who won’t judge you but will rip your head off when you do something out of the ordinary that might harm you. They don’t ask questions, they wait patiently for you to start talking and when you do, they will never say I told you so. They will tell you the truth but will bite their tongue when it might hurt you.
I can call one of my best friends a Diva because, well, he is. Best friends are kind and brutal, they laugh at you and with you. They will cry with you, and dry your tears. They take you in when you lose your home, and they will give you work because they know otherwise you would be worried you might be a burden.
Back then, I wondered what kind of best friend I was. I hoped from the bottom of my heart that one day I would be as good a friend, as my best friend was to me.
ONE DAY would come sooner than I thought.
My friend’s bedroom door opened, and Kurt came out. Fresh out of the shower, barefoot, wearing the same clothes he wore the night before. He got himself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table, right at the chair where my friend always sits. In all those years, I had never seen anybody sit in HER chair. It’s her spot, her place in her home. The chair is at the end of the kitchen, where she can overlook the living room and see the TV. On the right side, on an old storage shelf that once held potatoes and onions, she has lined up her cigarettes, her lighter, an ashtray, her car keys, her metal pipe to smoke weed. A bag of dog treats is in reach behind her on the small shelf under the French bulletin board that holds pictures of friends and family.
Kurt took the remote and turned on the TV. I never understood why my friend had a TV, to begin with. She hardly turned it on. In the mornings she had it on for the noise and to check the weather, and when a Saints football game was shown live, she turned it on to watch them win -if they didn’t win, she turned the game off.
She had the cheapest cable bill of all, only local channels.
When my friend came out of her bedroom she wished us “Good Morning” with a sheepish grin on her face. A bit like a schoolgirl who wasn’t sure if she would get praise or would get scolded. She stood a bit helpless at the table, holding her coffee cup. Kurt didn’t move, finally, my friend took the chair that was reserved for guests.
I wanted to push him off her chair so badly, but I didn’t. I looked out of the window, mentioned the ice on the puddles.
They had spent the first night together, one of many.
We talked a bit, then my husband and I got up and went to the sausage kitchen. We took the dogs with us. We left through the back door, which was hardly ever locked. Right through the small laundry room behind the kitchen, from there, you entered her screened-in back porch. Two screen doors on each side, one led into the fenced-in back yard, the other door led to the kitchen, the sheds with the freezers, and the driveway, from there to the front of the house and carport -and the open road and fields.
Both of the doors could be locked from the outside, as well as from the inside. The one to the fenced-in backyard stood open during the day, so the dogs could find shelter -of course, the other door was locked, so the dogs couldn’t escape. It wasn’t rocket science. You opened and closed the screen door to the street at all times. This way, our babies were safe.
Kurt went home that day, got a few clothes, and came back and stayed the week until New Year’s. The balance shifted a bit, now we were two couples living under one roof.
My friend was so happy. I loved to see her like that. I had always wished she would find a special guy. I knew how lonely she had been for so many years. It left me with one question only. Was Kurt that special guy?
I am a good friend, I am like a pit bull. I will protect you with my life if I have to. I will fight for you. I will stand up for you when nobody else does. I will share everything I have, including my unfiltered thoughts.
I asked my husband what he thought. He didn’t say much, he very seldom does. He takes his time to make up his mind, a quality I do not possess. “Give him a chance,” and so I did. As long as my friend was happy, I would be happy too. That was the plan.
We bonded in the evening, got to know each other better. Kurt inspected the kitchen and the products. He wanted to try all the sausages we had made. He walked around like he owned the place, he wanted to cook in the kitchen. Somehow my husband got promoted to be his best buddy. Kurt ate all the time. He was a little guy, heavily overweight, huffing and puffing with an immense appetite. Eating with one hand, drinking with the other. He was slow and had breathing problems when he was walking, like so many obese people.
My friend spoiled him, prepared extra meals for him, and cooked the dishes she thought he would like. She did what every woman in love does, she went above and beyond to please her man.
Our dogs escaped three times that week, each and every time because Kurt didn’t close the door to the road. “Sorry I forgot.” He liked our Weimeraner but had no connection to any of the other dogs, not even my friend’s Wiener dog.
My friend’s dog felt left out. For the first time in her life, she was not allowed to sleep in the bedroom. She whined and scratched at the door. The two little dogs, ours and hers, had slept together in my friend’s bed every night. Our dog was so torn, it was cute to watch. She wanted to stay with us but also wanted to stay with her mom. We joked that we would leave her behind when we would move on.
That week I picked up my friend’s dog every night and made her comfortable in our room. She licked my face, and gave me kisses, rolled up at the end of our bed, and fell asleep. Our little dog was in heaven. Finally, her world was complete. She had her human parents and her dog mom. It was crowded in our bed but like every dog lover, we were happy to move over a bit.
New Years Evening 2009 fell on a Friday. Kurt would go back to work the following Wednesday and would be gone for two weeks. They had bought lots of alcohol for one night. A bottle of Bailey’s, a bottle of Crown Royal, beer, and wine. In the afternoon the car dealership had delivered her new car.
She had shown it to us with so much pride. I didn’t ask any questions. Her ‘old’ car hadn’t been that old, she still had payments to make and now the new installments were higher because of it. I didn’t understand but again, I had no right to ask. The sausage kitchen and the smokehouse had put money back in her savings account and would continue to do so.
At midnight we had a glass of sparkling wine, then we went to bed. The new year 2010 had begun. It also started the count-down for us. We had 90 +/- days to find a job and find a place to call home -somewhere. Three months that would fly by fast.
New Year’s day was uneventful, we cooked, played games, wrote the weekly schedule for the kitchen. Ben and his wife came over, Steve and his wife joined us later. They all pretty much ignored Kurt, which I found odd. Kurt started drinking in the afternoon, by the end of the night he had finished the bottle of Bailey’s all by himself.
My friend was smiling, that’s all that mattered. I tried telling myself that over and over.
On Sunday they had made dinner plans. A romantic dinner at a nice restaurant. They got all dressed up and left. It was nice to watch. Maybe I was wrong and he was good for her. I didn’t have to like him, I didn’t have to be his best friend, I just had to stand on the sideline, supportive but ready to catch my best friend, in case she would stumble.
They came back around 9 pm. “I got news,” she said, went to the cupboard, and got out four mugs which she filled with sparkling wine. No time for glasses!
Kurt had asked her to marry him, and she had said YES. We congratulate them, cheered, and smiled. She had no ring.
“It wasn’t planned,” he said and looked so guilty. He would get a ring later. We smiled again.
The next day they decided it was time for Kurt to get all his ‘stuff’ and move in with her, and it made sense. Why pay rent for a room you don’t use anymore.
They went back and forth to get his belongings. An old banged-up car was pushed into the yard. “It just needs a little bit of work to make it driveable again.” A bunch of black trashbags with his stuff went into one of the sheds, bags with his clothes were dropped in the laundry room. Dirty pillows and an old comforter went straight to the trash.
He moved in, the same way I did. Bags of STUFF -no furniture. What had happened to him, I wondered. He had a job, he was in his end 40’s, so why doesn’t he have more than a few bags?
Of all people, the houseless woman was questioning him? What was wrong with me?
We had less than him, yet I challenged his motives. As a matter of fact, I examined everything about him and I felt so ashamed that I felt this way. Didn’t I have enough problems already?
How does friendship feel between best friends? Sometimes it hurts because it’s love.