Once upon a time, after meeting through a group of friends, a girl and a boy coincidentally met again outside a bar one night and decided it was fate. They hung out, talking for hours.
They went on an offical date, and as instantly as it happens these days, they fell in love.
They were best friends. Best, best friends.
Yes, I am the girl, I am the protagonist here. And my husband—my partner in the greatest sense of the word—Joe, is my co-star.
We moved to the West Coast, got married, had babies—two babies that we never got to hold and two babies who keep life wild and crazy and full every day.
Life has sped by—our run-in outside that Boston bar was about 16 years ago.
We have moved multiple times, changed jobs, taken risks, fought, cried, held each other up, said snarky things like ‘well it would be nice if someone would fold the laundry’ (truth: I’ve said that, not him.) My husband is much more direct—the tone of which used to hurt my feelings—so we’ve learned to navigate a middle ground there between passive and direct. We’ve worked and grown and laughed and all that married people do.
I could go on and on. You get the idea. It’s not an uncommon story. We love each other dearly, we adore our children and our lives.
But sometimes—we miss each other.
We miss hanging out without an agenda. We miss the spontaneous call “hey! it’s gorgeous out—meet me downtown for happy hour!”
Last month I met Joe in the Bay Area for a long weekend after his week of business travel. (And a Bruce Springsteen show. Priorities.) It wasn’t long into our trip, when I noticed we were talking and listening and laughing and even, dare I say, flirting a bit. And it was then that I realized quite how much I had been missing him.
Missing my best friend who always had a sparkle in his eye. Missing the person who could make me laugh so hard it hurt.
The last few years have been a whirlwind. It’s been nuts, as anyone with small children can tell you. Of course, we wouldn’t change a thing—but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we can feel nostalgic for the days we weren’t tied to much more than one another. And I can say that, having spent quite some time begging and pleading the universe for a baby.
Still. Nostalgia for the days of just us.
With our schedules, there are weeks we hardly cross paths. Sometimes they don’t cross at all when he is traveling for work and we’re too tired for phone calls.
Sometimes days go by with not much more than the “you do the dishes, I’ll do bath” negotiations.
There was a time recently when we had fallen into that place far too long. It was probably the lowest point of our marriage—that icky place where we weren’t truly connecting, we were only strategizing. Quite frankly, it sucked.
And what sucked even more was the stark realization at how easily busy married couples could fall into that place. It’s easy. But we knew we didn’t want to be there. We are both too passionate about life to remain content in mediocrity.
We recommitted to our friendship.
To the initial attraction that made our spirits need to be with one another. We work on it all the time, and we are probably in a better place than ever before. And yet. I miss him. I miss my buddy. I miss doing nothing. I miss quiet! I miss walking on the beach, hand in hand, blissfully in love and unaware of anyone else but us. I miss making out. I miss my bestie.
I actually cried that weekend away. Tears of joy, tears of recognition, tears of being seen for all of me—not just mommy. I hugged him so tightly and I wasn’t completely ready to come home, to be honest. My kids are my world—they fill my heart and soul with a delight I never knew possible. But I wasn’t ready for everything it takes to be a mother.
We promised each other to stay in ‘best friend’ state of mind.
And mostly, we have. Staying there does have its challenges though. It can be tough to find those moments every day to hold hands, to talk about something other than work, children, or school. But we are committed to it.
We’ve learned that it is a process, and it builds upon itself. If we don’t work at our friendship, we become strangers living together.
When we put forth a little effort each day, our resonance compounds, grows, until we are able to read each other’s minds again. Then we are laughing again.
In those times, those sparkly times, I remember we were best friends first.
We were best friends before any of these other monumental life changing moments occurred.