When I was a freshman in college, my boyfriend broke up with me. I want to say I handled it well, but that would be a lie. We had started dating our senior year of high school, went off to college together, and we were convinced that *this was it.* But, as so often happens in young, dumb relationships, we quickly started falling apart. The freedom. The lifestyle changes. The alcohol. After months of pointless torture, petty fights, and angry tears, he called it quits after one of his fraternity parties. I sobbed hysterically as he slammed his apartment door in my face — telling me to go away. After pounding on the familiar dorm for fifteen minutes, I accepted defeat and turned to face the night, not knowing what to do next.
I remember stumbling to a bench, too upset to walk back to my building. I don’t want to sleep alone I thought absurdly, as I pictured my own dorm room, littered with couple photos and memories of him. I felt my breath hitch as I looked at my lock screen, a picture of the two of us together. Just as I was about to call him, my phone lit up.
“How was the party?” my best friend, Alexa, texted me.
I immediately called her, asked if I could sleep at her place, and all but ran to her dorm room. I slept in her full-size bed with her that night. And the next night. And the next night. For the last month of my freshman year, until we went back to our hometown, I slept in my best friend’s bed. And despite the fact that she had a boyfriend, despite the fact that I was a dramatic, emotional mess, and despite the fact that it was time I got over myself and that shitty relationship — she never kicked me out.
I met Alexa when I was in ninth grade. Coincidentally she had gone to middle school and became friends with my childhood best friend, so when we were thrust into the scary would of high school, our mutual acquaintance insisted that we meet. From there it was effortless. We went homecoming dress shopping together. We had sleepovers. We talked about guys we wanted to date and what we thought our ~first times~ would be like. I texted her right after I lost my virginity, and she asked me for advice right before she lost hers (sorry, the secret is out — guess you can’t wear white). The first time I got drunk was with her, and so was my first hangover. We’d lie to our parents about being at each other’s houses to stay at our boyfriends’ houses, and we’d skip class to go to the beach because back then nothing was more important than being tan.
We’ve been through everything together. The best moments, from getting the dream jobs and landing those internships, to the hard ones, facing the loss and illness of loved ones and experiencing the heartbreak of goodbyes. She was there for me when my childhood dogs got put down, and she yelled at my shitty, cheating boyfriend when I went away on a vacation.
When her family moved across the world (yes, world) for her dad’s job, I insisted that she start spending holidays at my home. There was always a place set for her at Thanksgiving, and most Christmas nights you’d find her in my kitchen, surrounded by my family, convincing everyone to take vodka shots. We went from high school graduation to college graduation, slowly trading our nights of partying for nights of Netflix watching. We went from living a minute away from each other to living across the country. We had fights, God we had fights, but through it all, through everything, she got me. And I got her. And we balanced each other out in a way I’ve never experienced before. What can I say? We grew up together.
She’s my very best friend in the world.
And two weeks ago, she called me after work. I had just texted her about something pointless, so when her name lit up on my phone, I smiled and got settled in to catch up with my best friend. Upon answering, however, I could tell something was different — and after a hasty greeting, it spilled out of her.
It hung on the line for a moment, while I tried to comprehend what she had said. In truth, we knew this was coming. A few months ago she told me that she and her boyfriend, Joe, had ordered a ring, and we had gushed over the one she picked. But time had passed and I had forgotten that their anniversary was approaching. So when she called me that Wednesday, it didn’t even occur to me that her life had just changed.
That’s when it started to hit me — the man she loves gave her a ring and asked her to be his wife.
A week after that, she asked me to be her maid of honor. After years of kissing the wrong boys, wondering if any of them would be the right boys, falling for people who were wrong for us and gossiping about the ones who hurt us, she found him. The guy we’ve been looking for. The reason behind the late nights in bars, the hours spent discussing text messages, and the hungover brunches where we talked about what (and who) went down the night before.
My best friend is getting married, and it is the most surreal feeling in the world.
After we hung up the day of her engagement, I had sat, glued to the couch, staring at my phone. I imagined all of the penis favors I would get for her bachelorette party. I envisioned helping her put on her veil, moments before saying “I do.” I pictured hugging her just before leading the way down the aisle.
As I stared at her name, I realized — she was going to have a different last name. She was going to become someone else. She was starting a new chapter.
I never thought I would feel this way. To be honest, I didn’t really think about how I’d feel. When we would laugh and gossip about our future weddings when we watched Bridesmaids or Bride Wars or whatever romcom we were feeling with our box of wine, it always seemed so far off. So distant. So far-fetched. I knew it would happen in a passive way. But now? Now we’re texting each other about colors and venues, dresses and bachelorette party ideas. Now it’s real.
My best friend has a ring, a date (almost, if only the church would get back to her), and a fiancé. In a little over a year, I’m going to be by her side, fixing her dress, making sure she’s having a wonderful time, and talking to her in the bathroom, just like I would in college.
But in a little over a year, my best friend is going to be someone’s wife. My best friend is going to be someone’s person.
The thing is, when you imagine the wedding, you think about all of the fun things. Giggling over all of the exes who didn’t work out as she wears her “bride” sash in Vegas (kidding, I promised we wouldn’t go to Vegas), getting our nails done the day before the wedding, and spending hours on Pinterest, “oohing” over the good ideas and laughing over the bad ones.
But you don’t really think about the other things. You don’t really think about what it means.
My best friend, my rock, my favorite person, has found someone else. Someone to spend her life with. She’s going to change her name. They’re going to buy a house together. They’re going to have kids together. Kids. My best friend is about to start the next chapter of her life — and in a way, it’s bittersweet.
As we’re texting back and forth, planning visits and making appointments to look for bridesmaids dresses, it hits me — everything is going to change. Not in a bad way. Things are just going to be different. She’s not going to come to my house for holidays anymore because she’ll have a husband now. We’re not going to wonder if this guy is the one anymore, because he is. They’ve agreed. She’s out of the game. Going to bars and getting drinks from boys and lounging on my family’s couch during school breaks, sneaking wine from the fridge and insisting my mom get that chip dip we like — that’s all going to end. And for the first time I understand why the maid of honor is always sobbing while giving her speech at the wedding. Well, that and the alcohol. But the truth is, the person I love more than anyone, has picked *her* person. And all I want is her happiness. All I want is for him to love her and care for her and treat her the way she deserves. Because she deserves the world.
And Joe? Joe is going to do that. Joe already does that.
Because with the changes come the exciting things. The new chapters. The new beginnings. From attending a housewarming party when they purchase their first home or the moment when she tells me she’s pregnant — that she’s going to become a mom. When your best friend gets married, it’s a lot of things. Exciting. Expensive. Fun. But it’s also a little bit sad in the way all changes are sad. Not because of what’s happening, but because of what’s getting left behind. Because of what’s in the chapter you’re turning over from.
That’s the funny thing, though. The only way to move forward is to do just that. You can’t stay in college forever, dancing on bars and drunkenly pointing at the camera. Someday you’ll meet a guy who catches you off guard. Who makes you realize why it didn’t work out with your first love or the ginger guy who was totally wrong for you. He’ll know how you take your coffee and love you when you’re a hungry bitch. He’ll accept your friends, and your dog as his own, and he’ll do anything he can to make you smile. He’ll do anything to make you feel loved.
My best friend found that guy. My best friend is marrying that guy.
And after all of the times I’ve leaned on her, all of the times I’ve fought her (even though, let’s be real, she was usually right), and after all of the times she’s been there for me, I can not imagine being anywhere but right by her side as she says “I do” to the man of her dreams. As she marries her other best friend. And no matter what happens in life, where we live or what we do or whether or not our kids are pieces of shit, I know in my heart I will always, always be right beside her — fixing her dress, talking to her in the bathroom, and making sure she’s having a wonderful time. But first thing’s first — I have a stripper to order..