I met my best friend sometime around seven years old. I don’t remember how it happened. All I know is that we clicked. We balanced each other out; she was the good, wholesome one and I was the foul-mouthed, corrupting force in her life. By the age of nine, I can definitely say she was one of my closest friends. After all, good lightsaber duel partners were hard to come by. As time went on, there were plenty of changes. She moved away to Arizona when we were twelve. By the time she moved back to California, I was already on my way to college in Boston. Still, we always kept in touch. As I prepared to enter my twenties, all I could do was think of all the adventures we were about to have at the peak of our lives.
A big ol’ sparkling diamond ring on her finger was not part of that plan.
It was inconceivable. There was no way either of us had reached that stage of maturity in life. We hadn’t even finished college yet! Plus I had only met her (gulp) fiancé once. I barely had a chance to interrogate him. What about our twenty-first birthdays and girls nights out? What about her visiting me in Boston? There were so many experiences to be had and most of them didn’t involve bringing along a husband. Yet there it was on my phone screen, that glittering engagement ring signaling the end of an era that hadn’t even begun.
As her friend, I put on an enthusiastic face. I was beyond honored when she asked me to be a bridesmaid. “They’ll wait for a bit,” I reassured myself, “There is still time.” Nope. A “Save the Date” card announced that the occasion would take place less than six months after the proposal. It was at that moment that I entered my several-month-long internal crisis.
As the dates got closer, I saw less and less of my friend. In reality, I heard from her more than ever in various bridal planning group chats and on social media. However, she seemed like a different person. Our conversations nearly always turned towards the wedding. She became really excited about domesticity, almost crying upon seeing a gas stove in her new home and pink cookware at her bridal shower. When I invited her to a bonfire with some of my old high school friends, it took her mother convincing her to hang out with a group of people her own age rather than mature adults and an infant. It was a side of her I had never seen.
To say I felt out of place in the bridal party is an understatement. Every time I opened my mouth in person or over text, I either a) shut it instantly or b) made an off-color remark and internally punched myself at everyone’s concerned or shocked responses. It took about a day until I resorted to my inner college girl methods to calm down. I couldn’t help but feel like a disappointment. Here were all of these bridesmaids, each of them sweet, Christian girls who would never do a bad thing in their lives. Meanwhile, I was the jerk with terrible coping mechanisms who always fell silent when the conversation turned towards the wedding.
It took months for me to finally confront my biggest fear about the impending wedding. I am twenty years old and have never been in a serious relationship. While I never had a full plan ahead of me, I always knew that I would never settle down until I had a master’s degree, a solid career and had accomplished everything I wanted to do with my life. I just assumed romance would squeeze itself in there at some point. I had plenty of time. Witnessing my friend’s happiness threw that confidence out the window. Was I doing something wrong? She found a life partner in the first man she dated. I ghost half of the guys I meet for petty reasons. Compared to her handsome Prince Charming and starter home, my future dream of living alone in a studio apartment seemed downright depressing.
Believe it or not, relief came in the form of the 2011 movie Bridesmaids, my contribution to the bachelorette party. It was like watching my six-month-long existential crisis play out in front of my eyes. I was Kristen Wiig, the childhood friend and human disaster tormented by a sense of inadequacy compared to her friend’s perfect life and friends. Despite all of her luckless antics, she was still right there while her best friend took the biggest step of her life. The bride might have this new life and new friends but no amount of time or transformation lessens a friendship.
At some point within the past decade, our paths diverged. I live on the opposite side of the country pursuing a journalism career I never could have imagined as a child. She is now beginning a beautiful life with her new husband in a home with a gas stove and a tree in the front yard. We have new friends that bring out different qualities and help us grow as people. A lot has changed over the past eleven years, but, lucky for me, some things stay the same. That was clear enough when she turned and beckoned to me, the last bridesmaid to take a one-on-one picture, a familiar spark in her eyes. I can’t predict what the future will bring for us. All I know is that I will always be there to support my dearest partner in crime. After all, there’s no one I’d rather have a lightsaber duel with than her.
Congratulations on your happily ever after. Love, your co-pilot and future asylum roommate.
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