Friendship Hall of Fame
Updated: Jun 26
So like any millennial woman who grew up on a steady IV drip of The Saddle Club and H20 that were basically designed with the same Sex And The City algorithm but for preteens, I have a particular affinity for female friendships. Since the moment we were taught what the word "patriarchy" meant, the same breath then told us that the only way we'd make it through was with sisterhood. I'm pretty sure that's the whole thesis of both the Spice Girls "If You Wanna Be My Lover" and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.
But because we live in a society obsessed with romantic relationships being the only form of relational fulfillment possible, I feel like women around my age are in such a weird place. If female friendships are life-giving then what am I supposed to do when I start dating a bland white man named Mark?? I feel like we get to have an emotional goodbye à la Avengers: Infinity War as they dissipate into thin air whenever they start dating a HGTV renovator-lookin' Derrick.
I just think there should be more landmarks to celebrate friendship. The only thing I can think of is when your friend gets engaged and asks you to be a bridal party. Yes, it's an invitation to a shit ton of drama and completely unnecessary expenses that she will insist is a steal! but that high of standing up there flanking her like Destiny's Child to Beyoncé? That's as close to Friend Olympics that we get. The only other thing I can think of is being tearfully asked to be a godmother and if she may perish, to raise your friend's child Count of Monte Cristo-style to avenge and honor her mother's memory. Or like, you get to become a quirky aunt. Or a bone marrow donor. Or becoming famous and always name-dropping them so people instantly know who your "normal" best friend that keeps you grounded is (ie. Jocelyn to Mindy Kaling and Abigail* to Taylor Swift).
* Abigail deserves royalties from "Fifteen" and not just inclusion in your famous girl-group selfies, Taylor! Justice for Abigail!
So I decided to write up a listicle of friendship memories that I would make an Oscar-worthy event of. I'd invite all my friends and insist they come dressed to the nines ((like I did in college when I hosted The Maggie's Day Parade of Friendship and Thanksgiving, which even I will admit was very extra)). Then we all just watch a highlight reel set to "Graduation (Friends Forever)" by Vitamin C and have a good cathartic cry.
When Vicky Came For An Insane Weekend
I met my friend Erika when we both served with International Justice Mission in the Philippines combatting the online sexual exploitation of children for an overlapping year. For reasons I've selectively chosen to forget, we were not really that great of friends while there but became very close after she left. She is consistent and loyal to my irrelevant and caustic; as much as it constantly surprises me for how much it shouldn't work, it just does.
When we both moved back to America, I invited her out for a weekend on the farm to meet the family I had monologued about for hours over the course of a year. Unfortunately, my great grandfather had passed away that week and amidst the family coming to town and having to write the obituary, we still really wanted to see each other, and her presence was such a welcome breeze of cheeriness my whole family appreciated.
For whatever reason, upon meeting Erika, a girl who again I had been close friends with for a year and had talked about often, my mom excitedly hugged her and exclaimed "VICKY! It's so wonderful to meet you! I've heard so much about you." It was so inexplicable and she said it with so much confidence, we just had to accept it. Erika is now Vicky to my family, unironically.
Anyway, that weekend, Vicky did the most selfless act of friendship. She stayed at home with a pregnant Labradoodle in labor so my whole family could attend my great grandfather's funeral together. She risked having to deliver puppies with only Google and a prayer, but she also baked treats and cleaned the house while we were gone grieving. It was a simple act of kindness yet deeply, deeply charitable, and is still a gift my family talks about to this day. Erika risked dog afterbirth for me and I won't soon forget it.
Foot Baths With Grace In Chicago
After college, there were seasons of life where I would find myself in Indiana between things. And I hated that because there were NO young people I knew as everyone was either still in college or living far away. My nearest friend from college was Grace, who was living in Iowa. Ew, I know, but Grace is basically the opposite of Iowa. She looks like she was type-casted as the "Cool Girl" from every single CW show; she is cool, calm, and collected, and has killer cheekbones. Every time I do something extremely dorky, I don't self-deprecatingly think "why is this girl even friends with me?", I think with relief "Well, I can't be that dorky because Grace is friends with me". I highly recommend having a friend like this.
Anyway, we would meet mid-way in Chicago for our birthdays, as hers is the day before mine. We went to see an Upright Citizen Brigade show, cussed at the Trump Tower, and ate an unbearably fancy dinner where I somehow chipped my tooth. And at the end of our romp, we crawled our way to our room where we ran a bath to soak our (my) blistering feet.
As we chilled, she all of the sudden asked "do you remember those pioneer love movies?" which of course I do. She was talking about the Love Comes Softly series, which is the most ridiculous Hallmark franchise of all time that starts with a make-up free Katherine Heigl and by the fifth one stars Hilary Duff's sister with bad lip injections. We could be in any city in the world and I would still have the most fun just laughing with our feet in a bathtub, shitting on the Hallmark channel. That's true friendship.
Splitting a Tissue with Kristen at a Gas Station
Basically the Philippines could take even the most polar opposite of people and endear them to one another with such affection, it borders on violent. That is my love for Kristen, who could not be more opposite than me. She is one of those girls who is so petite, you finally understand why that section of The Loft even exists. She is outrageously fashionable, naturally beautiful, and so FREAKING level-headed, that that may sound like a boring compliment but to me, who has never once been close to being described as "rational", I mean it with awestruck wonder. She also low-key modelled in Japan which I'm sure she's rolling her eyes that I included that, but she's so modest she would never brag about this. I'm doing it for you, Kristen! Let me hype you up like a proud PTA mom!
Anyway, once we were on a road trip to a weekend in El Nido, a gorgeous little beach town north of Manila. We stopped off at a gas station where I realized I had forgotten the golden rule of travelling in the Phils: Always bring tissue. Be it fastfood napkins, tissue, or once even a paper bag, it is the difference between life or death....or a tabo, which I still don't fully understand how it replaces the need for toilet paper. But Kristen, sweet saintly Kristen, who always came prepared, could've easily hidden her last piece of tissue and bid me a fond farewell. But no, she split her last tissue in HALF. Bless her, but this tissue was so small, it could in no way even hold a sneeze. It was much more of a metaphorical gesture but still, the way she sacrificed her tissue in the name of friendship was akin to the blessed sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sassy Girl Hong Kong with Hailey
Every few months we had to leave the Philippines for visa reasons, so me and my friend, Hailey, decided to weekend in Hong kong. Yes, I used weekend as a verb because for one magnificent season of life I was a glamorous expat who did fabulous and legally vague visa loophole trips.
Anyway, Hailey and I decided to experience Hong Kong by following a trendy local's guide blog called Sassy Girl Hong Kong. We did afternoon tea where they recommended, went to a gorgeous Thai hole in the wall restaurant, and took the Star Ferry back and forth to Cheung Chau island. We were just two young girls having a blast, seeing all these fabulous things and eating all these great foods with no fretful worry if we were doing it right. We were doing it sassy and didn't that matter more?
"Doing it right" will always be a baseline anxiety I carry around because I'm just too skeptical. But with Hailey, she forces you to truly experience things (in almost an agonizingly slow pace). That may mean being late to some things or spending a long lunch savoring every little drop, but isn't it better to truly truly enjoy your time? Sure we practically walked onto our flight back to Manila because we made it to the airport so late, but we got there in the end so really that was the only thing that mattered!
Discovery with Maria
One of my dearest friends is a wicked smaht New Englander named Maria, who is a social worker and A HERO AND BASICALLY THE BACKBONE OF OUR CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM AND SHE DESERVES A HIGHER PAY, GOVERNMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS!!
I met Maria when I was an angsty 18 year old who was fresh off a semester in France. It was my first time on campus in Wenham, MA, and I had recently found out that I was forced to do an outdoors activity class with freshmen. I mean, moi?? A cultured citizen of the world, a global ingenue, being made to frollick and trust fall with children? It was unthinkable.
So basically, I had an insanely bad attitude and tried to gravitate to whoever I thought would whisper mean things with me in a corner. That turned out to be Maria, who would happily gossip with me WHILE still being delightfully cheerful and amiable. Maria is truly ride-or-die that way. Anyway, our bond was cemented when the hardest ropes course, The Zipper, required a partner pair. We had to climb up separate poles in our dumb little harnesses, and start off on parallel wires. Leaning on each other, the wires would slowly separate until you could barely touch fingertips and would fall.
I let out every single curse word I knew in French and English as I climbed up that stupid pole. I definitely have a problem with heights but even more so with looking stupid, so it was a real Sophie's Choice for me. But as soon as I got up there and my shaking, sweaty hands met with Maria's, I knew I was fine. We were going to fall, but we were going to fall together....and then we would go say snarky shit to each other in the corner somewhere. Because that's what friendship is.
((I asked Maria what she would count as a big friendship moment for us and surprisingly she also said this Discovery course. But and I quote, she said "my personal favorite was when those boys were on the high wire things and you said 'this is so homoerotic'." She is still my friend?! Isn't that wild?!))
There are many more friends with many more precious memories (like McKenzie knitting me a blanket that has gone everywhere with me, Jill taking me around her hometown in Pampanga, Kellyn helping me furiously air out an apartment when I set off a fire alarm, Gabby giving me her hard-earned law school secrets when I in no way deserve them, Jeannie letting a puppy throw up on her, Cara being ride-or-die with my family on the farm, Raegan and I once having a very terse but then joyful ride back from Grand Rapids, RJ telling me I was his first liberal friend, going to a Filipino speech conference and getting a bad case of the giggles with Dani, going to a K-Pop conference with Mandy, every moment in person with Roselle, Hannah giving me a Christmas present for my sad Christmas alone, and going to freaking Europe with Jordan).
I have great friends and I hope all this sentimental rambling makes you think about the moments with your own friendships that would be featured in the movie montage of your buddy cop film. I hope you celebrate them because something (EVERY MOVIE, SONG, AND BOOK EVER MADE) tells me that they are worth cherishing for life.