“When I was in high school,” a friend told me this evening over coffee, “I had lots of friends, but I didn’t have a best friend. I always wanted to find that one person, but I never really did.”

She paused for a moment.

“…But I’ve realized that I have different friends for different things. There’s the friend I call when I want someone to listen. There’s the friend I call when I want to know what I should do in a certain situation, and friends I call when I want someone to be angry on my behalf. And one isn’t better than the other. But I have different people for different needs.”

What she said rang very true. We all do have friends for different things. There is the friend you see horror movies with, and the friend you see chick flicks with. There is the friend you like to have dinner with occasionally, and the friend who you feel comfortable calling at two in the morning. But haven’t we all also longed for that one, special friend? As children, before we thought about boys, and dating, and marriage, we thought about best friends. Didn’t we all agonize over so-and-so, wonder if she liked us back, got excited the first time she invited us over to her house, become inseparable, have fights, have break-ups, just as we would later with the romantic partners in our lives?

When I moved to the Caribbean as a child, I made a new best friend very quickly. She was my whole world. We played as much as we could, whenever we could, and I still remember the sting of the day she decided to play cards with some other girls one recess, instead of going on the swings with me (!). Thankfully, that was the one and only time she ever abandoned me… until  she moved to Holland at the end of the year. The loss of my best friend devastated me as terribly as if I had lost a family member. Her very name meant life, according to the Name Books, and I believed it. How could life go on without her?

It’s hard to lose a good friend, but it gets easier as the years pass. She and I never lived in the same place again. She’s still in Holland, and I moved back to Canada when I was 13. We spent one year together at age 10, and I can count the number of times that she came back for visits on one hand. But she was there for my bachelorette party. She was there as I was getting my hair done. She danced at my wedding reception. She said she wouldn’t have missed my wedding for the world. And I still have the half of a charm that she got me – it’s half of a heart, and she had the other half, and if you were to put them together, they would read “BEST FRIENDS”.

Since the day she left for Holland, I have made many other close friends, all of whom I love and cherish. But one of them was my “Best Friend” through high school, and still is the official title holder to this day. The title is purely nominal, grandfathered in from the days when such terms were used, since she is not the only one who I feel especially close to or whose love I especially cherish. But by labelling each other “Best Friend”, we created a special relationship which I feel that every person needs. A relationship which, like a romantic one, involves mutual trust and support, love and comfort.

I have other best friends – people who I can talk for hours with, who I love unconditionally, who I feel understand me and love me for who I really am deep down. Perfect Husband is one of them. So why is having a girl best friend so important, when I live with my best best friend? Maybe it’s about history together. Maybe it’s just about having someone to talk about boys with. All  I know is, a best “girlfriend” is something every girl should have. Not because you can’t get those things from other people, but because when you have that kind of one-on-one relationship, it gives you certain inalienable rights.

“Girlfriends” means that it’s okay to call in tears at two in the morning on a Tuesday night.

“Girlfriends” means three hour long phone calls, and still finding stuff to talk about.

“Girlfriends” means you can watch terrible, sappy, slushy chick flicks, and cry together, and then laugh so hard that you’re both crying together still.

“Girlfriends” means you can sign off from a tearful phone call with “I love you” and “I love you, too.”

“Girlfriends” means you will go out to fetch her in the middle of the night after she has ended a relationship and doesn’t want to stay.

“Girlfriends” means she will drive three hours out of her way to help you move out of your apartment, and bring you home three hours back again… and not ask for gas money.

“Girlfriends” means she will be supportive, no matter what kind of an idiotic pickle you’ve gotten yourself into this time.

“Girlfriends” means you can understand what she’s saying, and translate for others, when she’s sobbing so hard that it all comes out like this.

It goes on and on, the Rights of Best Girlfriends. It’s true that you have different friends for different reasons, but every girl should have at least one friend who is extra special, and who thinks you’re extra special, too. I am so lucky, because on top of Perfect Girlfriend, I have other awesome close friends, including one who I am every bit as close to. When I was home in July, we sat up talking past three in the morning for three nights running… and never ran out of stuff to say. We don’t say “I love you” in so many words (we express affection through insults, mostly), and we don’t weep over chick flicks, but the friendship is still vital to my happiness.

And my best friends live so far away. When the time difference is this great, even a casual evening phone call turns into a two in the morning call, and I reserve those for emergencies. It’s not the same when you can’t gather for a coffee, or have a girl’s night on the couch.I’ve gotten one friend to move out here, though, and I’m going to keep working on it, because life just isn’t right without my girls.

Perfect Girlfriend posted this link on my Facebook recently, because it  made her think of me. When I heard it, I felt it too. We’ve gone from a phone call every day, to one every week, to one every couple of months.

We need to fight for our friendships, because “girlfriends” also means… never drifting so far apart that you can’t reach each other in a hurry.

Did you ever find your “one friend”? Are you still in touch?