I never really had a best friend growing up. I had good friends and a barkada, but no one who really became my rock. I guess that had to do with my non-desire to share my thoughts and feelings with someone else. Not that I was completely anti-social — I like to think I was quite the class clown — but I never had to deal with having to pour my heart out to someone else.
My best friend and I met in Grade 10. Well, technically we met in kinder when we were five, but we only became friends 11 years later. I never thought we’d become close the way we are now; she was a skater girl and I listened to Mariah. She was personable; I was the bossy class bitch who threw tantrums in public. Right before she came back to our school, I said (in front of her and a couple of other friends) “Oh, I don’t even want a new classmate.” Clearly I was kind of a snob. We started hanging together out of necessity — we were a class of just five — and became fast friends. When I think about it, maybe she was just being polite. We hung out more and more (mostly because my mom allowed me to be kaladkarin) and spent most of our formative teen years together.
I never thought I would have a girl as a best friend. I had always wanted a brother, someone with whom I could share “just dude things” growing up, like a fascination for cars and tech. I did have a couple of guy friends who taught me how to play DotA, Ragnarok, and how to trash talk in an Internet cafe. Not to be sexist about it, but what I eventually learned from my best gal changed my perspective more than any dude in my life did.
At first, I thought being friends with a girl meant going on shopping sprees and gabbing about boys and having giggly sleepovers, but that wasn’t the case. Over the years, she’s taught me about music, photography, art, artists, and so much more. Because of her, I was able to step out of that tiny box of local machismo and widen my perspective way more than I could ever imagine. She taught me how to dream and reach for the stars.
With her being a girl, of course, I learned more than just what she taught me. I involuntarily learned about periods, panties, period panties, and how to know when you’re about to get your period (you’ll know when your breasts start to swell, so I’m told). I’ve never had a girlfriend and probably never will, and even though I have my mom and my sister, learning about the female nitty-gritty from her was like Aladdin showing me a whole new world.
More important than all of this, however, was that I learned that a girl can be stronger than a man. Growing up, that cliché and outdated stereotype of women being the weaker sex was subliminally omnipresent, from the shows I watched to the things my titas said over family gatherings. When I became friends with this girl, I learned that she was in many ways stronger than me: in strength (emotionally and oftentimes physically — she was athletic, okay) intellect, emotion, resolve. This girl knew what she wanted and knew how to get it. She didn’t always make that clear nor did she always go for it, but she knew. It was her drive to chase down her own dreams that inspired me to do the same, to never be complacent about the work that you put out. Ever since I met her, she’s been keeping me on my toes and constantly opening my eyes to new perspectives, more than any man, dude, or bro has done for me.
I know it sounds like I’m putting her on a pedestal — don’t get me wrong, no one’s perfect. But sometimes when you find that person that people describe to be your (for the lack of a better word) soulmate, you find that the world is a little bit more bearable. And for a guy who was closeted emotionally (and in other ways, ahem), it was a girl, this girl in particular, who really got me out of my shell. I may not be a diamond, but I’m so glad she also calls me her best friend.