I first met James when I was 16. It was Summer Holidays and we worked at a restaurant in Santa Fe. I was bussing tables and he ran food out of the kitchen. It was tourist season and we were always insanely busy but we had so much fun. Our friend group was about eight or nine and we were playing as hard as we were working. I was the youngest of the group and he was a bit older. Though we would have more likely fallen on the periphery of each other, there was always something that stood out about James. At parties, he never intervened, but always kept a respectful watch over me. He was never controlling but would respectfully step in if he felt some one unsavoury enter. He was more like a brother then a friend; we just seemed to sync in a way that meant our understanding of each other just surged that little bit deeper.
By the time I left Santa Fe and moved to L.A., then New York, and finally London, James and I hadn't seen each other in about two years, but we had stayed in touch and would have a good phone catch up every few months. A time came when I was absolutely desperate; I needed some support, a friend. My fingers just knew to dial James. He jumped on a plane and took wonderful care of Nikko during fashion week in Italy. He was just there. I said I was desperate, and I was, not only because the childcare plan had for fallen through, but I was feeling utterly on my own. When James heard my voice, a shaky "Hi." He just said, "What can I do?"
It struck me that this was my first friendship forged as an adult. We aren't spun together because of class year or neighbourhood lottery, or because our parents were friends; we got to choose each other. There are certainly the friends that we maintain because of history and whom we still share very deep and loving connections with, but don't necessarily grow on into adults with. Don't get me wrong, these are very important. But there is a sense of freedom in knowing that you have really committed to cultivating these special friendships because you consciously choose to. We select these people and almost adopt them as second families; our chosen family. We need this in a way that we can't possibly understand as children and adolescents. There is too much politics wrapped up in life during these stages that we can't form good decisions in the selection of our peers. It's about social laurels to claim and animosities to conquer, and truth be told, I was never any good at it. I could ride the coat tails of dominant friendships, but never really understood how to navigate the intricate dynamics of playground battles. Maybe I was late to bloom- which may have been a saving grace, because, as an adult, when I knew I needed help, it was very clear who I needed to ask for it.
You know the friend who you can go weeks and months on end without seeing? Maybe after ages you get a text, respond a week late, then meet up and spend all night, spill into brunch and make plans for dinner with because you can't get enough of? Hold on to these people. As adults, the good times, and hardship becomes more and more certain and those that will hold us through the hard times, loss of parents and relationships, we must hold dear. Who do you miss? Text them some love, they might save tomorrow, or you may help save today.