My BFF

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay

It’s said that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. My friendship with Greg is the most enduring and unusual of any I’ve ever experienced.  It began precipitously in 1974, when a girlfriend and I picked him up at a bar during my too-short window between marriages.  He was strikingly handsome, gregarious, and lonely.  He’d recently moved from Texas and had no friends.

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He also, as it turned out, disco danced better than John Travolta!  It didn’t take long before I had a schoolgirl crush on the guy.  We dated briefly before he told me, “I just want to be friends”.  In other words, he wasn’t attracted to me  “that way”.  This was more than just a little disappointing for me.  A few months later, I met the man who would be my second husband.  He was no where near as attractive to me as Greg was, but he filled a big hole in my life at that time.
Greg and I drifted away from each other, but I wondered for years whatever happened to him. There was no way I could find him because he’d legally changed his name to “Sean”.  Thirty years later, we found each other.  On Match.comno less.  Our faces had changed, but I looked familiar to him.  He messaged, “Are you Nancy with the laughing face?”.  He remembered my fondness for that old Sinatra song!
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We’d both been divorced for two years.  He came to the cottage the next night and we sat in my double rocker in front of a glowing fire, sipping wine. I’d also put on some romantic music.  We talked for many hours about the 30 years apart and all that life had brought us.  I, of course, was flooded with thoughts of “This was meant to be!! Fate brought us back together!!”  As he was about to leave, we shared a kiss.  This nailed it for me. “This was meant to be!!!!”
A few days later on the phone, I alluded to my romantic interest in him – and he said, “I just want to be friends, Nance”.
Once again, I was crushed.  This is where the story gets interesting. If I couldn’t have a full relationship with the guy, I wanted nothing to do with him, but he kept calling and calling and calling.  It took about a year for me to move past my strong desire for him and begin to accept that he really meant what he’d said about being friends.
That was ten years ago, and to this day he phones me almost daily. For ten years.  We’ve engaged in lively conversations over 3,000 times since we reconnected, some of them highly stimulating, some of them just checking in, and some of them boring.  Our primary subject has been relationships and the gaping difference between men and women. At this point, he’s probably gotten half a million dollars worth of free therapy as I stayed by his side through years of gripping depression.  What he’s given to me is one person in my life who’s genuinely interested and caring about the day to day   I refer to this rare kind of friendship as “tracking”.  He’s my only tracker, wanting to know every detail of my life’s unfolding story. Having this consistent dialogue allows for everything to be held in a context.  Most friendships require “catching up” because time passes between contact.  With Greg and me, only one day passes.
Throughout the years, we’ve learned about the struggle between men and women from each other.  I get the male side from him; he’s gets the female side from me. I’ve named him the“King of Match.com” because a good looking guy his age is a very rare commodity.  There were times when he’d meet a new woman five times a week.  I don’t think he’s ever gone more than a few days without some romantic involvement.  He’s had a few long term girlfriends (meaning a year). I inquire about every one of his romantic escapades and give unsolicited feedback.  He’s a master at listening and loving to hear women’s stories even if there’s little attraction. Unfortunately for him, and even though I’ve helped him fully understand the psychology of his wounding, his childhood history continues to manifest by being attracted only to the very women emotionally unavailable for a long term commitment.
Never once in all of these years have we angry or disappointed in one another.  That alone is pretty rare, I think. He’s told me that I know more about him than any other human being in his life.  This goes both ways.  In fact, he’s never wanted me to meet one of his girlfriends out of fear that something will come out of my mouth that could jeopardize his new relationship.  Given that I can be somewhat unfiltered at times, he’s wise to not introduce us.  Over the years, several of his cast-offs have recognized me where I dance and, because every woman he’s dated knows all about me, they approach, asking, “Do you know Sean? Are you Nancy?”.  I have to remind myself that I’m the only person in his life who stubbornly still calls him “Greg”.  If any of these women knew how much he’s told me about them, they’d be more than a little distraught.
He continues his determined search for a woman with whom he can go the full distance, while I’ve discontinued dating five years ago. And, we continue our daily chats. I’ve helped teach him how to feel; he’s helped teach me how to stay rational. In the season, reason, or lifetime frame, this poor man is definitely a lifer.
What is the story of your BFF?

29 thoughts on “My BFF”

  1. My best friend since Grafe 1. We may go many months without seeing eachother, but it is as though no time has past when we talk or get together.

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  2. I met my best friend while dating his oldest sister. I taught him how to throw a football and while doing so gave him a bloody nose (a perfect spiral that he failed to snag). Much later we became brothers-in-law as we married sisters; he the youngest and me the oldest. That commonality is what bound us together through a whole lot of “interesting” times with the wives. We could always commiserate over a brew or two (sometimes more). It hurt badly when he succumbed to cancer. I haven’t had a best friend since.

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  3. This is a sad topic for me. I’ve had several best friends over the years, which is to say I have done the “BF” thing with several people. But that final F eludes me.

    When I met Dick, I knew I’d found my soul mate. He was the son of a famous Wisconsin conservationist. Dick was a hunter and a fabulous storyteller. We enjoyed half a year of friendship, then he was offered a dream job in Washington DC. And we haven’t been able to sustain the friendship.

    When Jerry came from Pennsylvania to join my wife’s business in Minnetonka, we formed a tight trio. A passionate hunter, angler and book reader, Jerry became almost a family member in the 1980s. He, too, was a storyteller with a keen eye for human foibles. Then Jerry fell in love with a woman who was offered a great job in New York City. Jerry went with her. I tried for years to keep in touch with him, but Jerry proved to be a person who could be a wonderful person in face-to-face contact but only in that way. He absolutely could not be a friend in letters or on the telephone, and I last spoke to him twenty years ago.

    Bill, an emergency room doctor who lives in Montana, has been a dear friend since 1967. We have shared everything, including a misadventure that nearly cost me my life. Bill and I discussed the big life decisions: getting married, having children, life after divorce. He is possibly the smartest man I have met, and we care for each other in a way that few people could understand. But Bill is incapable of maintaining contact with distant friends. He was my BFF until I lost the ability to join him on hunting trips. The last time I saw him was ten years ago, and since leaving Minnesota I have spoken to him on the phone just once.

    My best friend now is Marilynn, the woman I write a letter each morning. We have exchanged letters daily since 199. Marilynn turns 94 in a few months. She is surely my BFF now, but I fear that the “forever” part of the relationship cannot last much longer.

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      1. I think that ability to sustain relationships at a distance is remarkably variable. Some have it; some do not. I don’t understand this, and I’ve struggled with it in the case of my own distant friends. I’m becoming resigned to the obvious reality, which is that many good people just are not able to be a friend when long distances divide them from people they hold in their heart. My daughter, a “people person” who attracts friends wherever she goes, is totally incapable of keeping in touch with friends she doesn’t regularly see.

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      2. i try keeping p and am immne to notice that it is not reciprocated ntil i do. then i get pissed and stop to see if they ever call. they never do except mara dan and dick, so i guess you keep at it nbecause they are worth all the ones that arent

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    1. you can maintain it maybe on a different level. after all the years of correspondence she doesnt need to respond for you to know her part. and what you would write to her about even if she is not there to read and reply in the same way
      was it color purple where alice walker started with the dear god letters? i lived the concept of using the letter as a journal and an avenue to stream soul into the universe.

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  4. I don’t have a single BFF, but there is one person in each place I’ve lived that I try to maintain contact with. Sometimes it gets a little busy trying to keep up these contacts and be present in my current life, and I start to wonder if I let them all go, would I have more time to find a BFF right here? But so far I haven’t done that, and will continue to call or email occasionally, plan some of my travels so that we can get together and catch up. With each of these people, it’s as Renee mentioned above – like we just met yesterday.

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  5. I have written before about my BFF, who husband and I have asked to live with us when she retires. I think in the future we will all need to stick together for mutual support.

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  6. Thanks for this CB. It’s pretty neat you and Greg found each other again and remain friends.

    Some of you may think this corny, but my wife Kelly really is my best friend. When were first married we had a discussion on the definition of ‘Best Friend’. I thought ‘Wife’ meant more than Best Friend.
    And we can still argue the linguistics of that. But. She is.

    I email with my friend Paul every morning; he’s very important to me; mentor, advisor and best friend too.

    My friend Keith was best man at our wedding; but like Steve said of his friend, Keith is lousy at the distance thing. I haven’t spoken to him in 20 years. I’ve called and emailed and all that. His wife sends cards and is on FB. Keith just doesn’t.
    Same with my best HS friend Pete. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

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    1. I don’t think it’s corny at all – in fact, if I could do this life over, my greatest wish would be to be married to my best friend. Bodies age, passion subsides, wrinkles and infirmities descend, but my very fondest image is that of two aged people sitting together holding gnarled hands and seeing the beautiful person in front of them as though no time had passed at all. Now, I’m too old to have such a wonderful history. Maybe in the next life?

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  7. Morning all. Great piece, CB.

    My BFF is Sara. I met her on April 16 (David Shepardson Day – another long story) in 1983. It was my first day at B. Dalton in the IDS Center and I was taking training modules in the basement storeroom. Sara was also there to take a training module, although she was already a B.Dalton employee so she was further along than I was. We had books and employment in common and that got us started. Back in the day, even in a very small store, it was required that there be two employees there at all times. So we would meet at the Eddington’s across the street in the morning, get those big cinnamon rolls or a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and then go to the store, sit on the floor behind the registers (where passersby couldn’t see us) and eat and talk. I moved on to another B. Dalton (down the street) a few months later but we’ve been BFFs ever since. They’re coming over on Sunday for our traditional tree trimming!

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  8. That’s one of my favorite kinds of friendships, when you get to see them every day (or almost). When in married student housing at Ball State, I met Jama, whose kids were 5 and 12 while my boy was just 2. Wouldn’t think it would work, but it did, and we coordinated child care trades, PHC potlucks… It would be wonderful to have a BFF right next door.

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  9. My longest BFF is Julie…we met in kindergarten and have been friends since….sometimes closer, sometimes not…we don’t talk often on the phone because we don’t know when to stop. And then there is Beth, friend since fourth grade. She lives in Florida, but we talk at least once a month to catch up, if only to share what we are reading at the time. And my first real boyfriend with whom I broke off our romantic relationship to become lifelong friends. Alas he left my world (and his) a couple years ago. I also continue to be in touch with college friends and roommates. No one BFF, but several keep me warm with phone calls and visits through our ages.

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  10. A Thanksgiving Carol.
    To the tune of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
    Some of you might remember that Jim Ed and Dale did this long ago. I tried to recall the exact lyric but may have missed a bit of it.
    Gandolph The Thanksgiving Turkey
    Had a day with many woes.
    And if you ever saw him,
    you’d say, “Delicious! Head to toes.”
    All of the other turkeys
    used to laugh and call him names (like Drumstick)
    They ALWAYS let poor Gandolph
    eat the final bits of grain.
    Then one dark Thanksgiving Eve
    the farmer came to say,
    “Gandolph, with your meat so white,
    won’t you be my guest tonight?”
    Then how the turkeys loved him
    And they shouted out with glee
    “Gandolph The Thanksgiving Turkey,
    It was better you than me!”
    Merry Thanksgiving to all!

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  11. CB, this is a good story of a good friendship and I wish I had something to contribute, but I’ve thought and thought for a couple days and I got nothing.

    I’m making pies tonight. Two pumpkin and a chocolate tart that has browned butter in the crust and caramelized sugar and coffee in the filling which adds a lot of depth to the chocolate flavor. It’s pretty good and since I’ve been eating like a pig since election night, I’ll probably demolish these in a couple of days.

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    1. That Anonymous is me. I was logged in, but sometimes when I post from my phone, WP decides to play a trick on me and call me Anonymous.

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    2. Not to sound trite, but that’s exactly how I feel when TB’s subject is food. I’ve found it nearly impossible to find friends at this age and being divorced at 60. Married couples don’t tend to include stray ducks like me. I do have a group of high school classmates who meet monthly for brunch, but they’re all married and have lives full of old friends. It’s tough. I’ve spent every New Years eve by myself since 2004. That’s the only night of the year that I truly feel sorry for myself.

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  12. thanks cb
    i was told once that you need to have a romantic relationship before you can become true friends. i never found that to be true. i think friendship based on soul and mutual csare rather than lust is a better plan for long range plans
    my bff is a guy who came to me in little league baseball and then again as a card partner in jr high school. just a nice nice guy but he and i had a friendship based on hanging out over a couple of beers. i never drink alone. it is a social thing for me. (i used to do a lot of socializing) i never pop a beer to mow the lawn or watch tv. wine a little more so but my friend was a tradesman who often worked by himself. he used to do one hitters with a puff of pot on a daily or hourly basis then switched to beer on a daily basis and it kicked his butt. he took the cure but disappeared off the face of the earth and wont return calls or text messages. when someone makes it appear time after time he wants to be left alone, i do.
    i have another friend mara who kept here distance for a while when we were younger but rekindled our friendship as another appreciator of the written word. we can talk forever but mutually enjoy correspondence as an ongoing thread.
    when i was younger i thought i had a hundred really good friends and i still have folks i enjoy seeing from time to time but special friends are a different thing i have learned as time rolls along.
    the trail has been a surprising source of friends. ive got a feeling that down the road more than one or two of yo may still be on the friend list.

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