You know that thing about “Meredith and Cristina”? You know, the person who you go to with the weird problems that you don’t want to tell anyone else about? The person who laughs at your not so funny stories? The person you trust with the secret from eighth grade and from eighty-eight? I want to know how you find someone like that. How do you create that kind of world for and with someone else?
When I was in fifth grade I had a best friend. We drank tea together on picnic blankets in my backyard and played in the forbidden living room in her house with the real tea cups her mother collected from England. We made up games on the playground at recess – rode horses in our minds and saved the world. We swapped secrets, bad haircuts. I modeled my Anglican first communion after her Catholic one, and when she bought a bright white dress splashed with pink roses, I had to have one, too. I can’t tell you how many years it was that we rode bikes or walked or begged for rides just down the street – how many times we both wished for a dog, how many boys we first began to like, how many things we imagined together. How we swore we’d be best friends forever.
So in fifth grade, when I got onto the bus in October to ride home from school, and this best friend, her hair now in one of those sparkly silver scrunchies that the junior cheerleaders wore, and her tight jeans from the Limited Too or somewhere in the mall I didn’t shop, she didn’t sit with me? The world shook.
She sat two seats behind me, with another girl. She looked at me when I looked back with a look of spite or satisfaction, seeing me in my homemade hat quaking at the sight of her in the back with the cheerleaders and junior football players. She laughed as the girl whispered in her ear. I turned around, bright red. Suddenly everything felt wrong: my hand-me-down sneakers and stirrup pants (yes, I still wore those), my homemade things, my old backpack, my lack of cheerleading, my recorder stuck into my backpack for the private lessons that I longed for and pretended not to want…
And all because of that hope that lives inside us (inside you, too) that we will find kindred spirits and homes for our hearts in the people we love.
So when you ask me how to find that person, I want to tell the oh-so-obvious-but-nonetheless-true thing: you must be that person. Not always in your daily living with them (you can’t be a Cristina to everyone, nor can everyone be a Meredith to you) – but in making your heart a little deeper, your arms a little wider, the space around you an invitation.
Don’t be swayed by the people who are so dazzling and lovely sitting in the back of the bus. Don’t be tempted by the promises of great pictures of you having such a fabulous time that everyone who sees them will wish they were you, having that fabulous time if those people aren’t truly warm, loving, anxious to know you. Don’t worry about hand-me-downs on you or on the girl two bus seats ahead of you.
Instead, listen close to the people around you. Practice love in your conversations with them – practice courage in sharing with them. Let the whole of you be poured into creating space around you that is full of love (yes, that also means full of frustration and wonder and sadness and loneliness and sitting in the midst of crappy situations and not knowing answering but being asked anyway).
Fill the space around you with deep love. And then, you’ll find, what makes Cristina and Meredith special isn’t rare like the AB- blood type: it’s rare because it’s not always practiced. It’s not always chased after in friendship. But we could: and, in beautiful moments, we do.
You sound like you want to chase after it, Meredith. I think you won’t have to go too far before you find it.