Emily, The Yeti-Child
For seven years, I wore multicolored braces to correct the genetic injustice my father dealt me. When I was too lazy to wash my hair, I held it back with thick fabric headbands my mother kept in a hatbox under her bed. I wore these really ugly black spandex pants with a white line down the side almost every day. I stayed in the library during lunch, I didn’t drive, and I have reason to believe that there is still a video circulating in my family of my five-year-old self eating a shoe.
Though it may seem that I had been grooming myself to be a reclusive lunatic, the universe gave me friends… Six incredible, different women who at one time or another, worked at my grandmother’s business, rode behind me on my bike to make sure I didn’t kill myself against oncoming traffic, or drank tea with me in my basement.
New Countries, New Emily
I moved. Thrice. New York, Dublin, Los Angeles. My good fortune continued. In each city, I made friends with the kind of women who gave me the space to find myself. They pushed me into doing the things that terrified me: caving in the countryside, renting in Manhattan, wearing low-cut dresses, climbing up iron gates, and driving through snow storms. They were the threshold goddesses. They introduced me to happy hour, chicken mole, paperback romances, and Angela Carter. We sat at 24-hour Starbucks and shared our sad stories. We watched bad television together, consuming pints of oatmeal chocolate chip ice cream before the opening credits ended. We tried Bikram Yoga for an entire week before renouncing it over "Adios Motherfuckers."
In a poignant article in The Hairpin, Jenna Wortham describes her active pursuit of female friendships and how falling in love with her friends was a vital and inevitable process:
Falling head over heels in love with women was a habit I thought I'd thoroughly grown out of in middle school, when a group of about five girls and I color-coordinated our outfits and spent weekends and even some weeknights sprawled out in each others bedrooms. But rediscovering a special kind of female magic that is thick and all-encompassing, supportive and blunt in its realness that eventually gives way to a connection that goes beyond brunch once a month or obligatory catch-up drinks after work.
There is something to the notion of finding yourself when you fall in love. In my experience, the great romances have been the female friendships I’ve made because when I was growing, they were there… watching, cheering, consoling, coaching. In second grade, I met an adorable girl sporting a bowl haircut that shared my birthday and she’s still the first person I call when I turn a year older. The same friend who drove across country with me, made me a bridesmaid at her wedding, and held me at my grandfather’s funeral, was the same friend that bought a bottle of wine at a restaurant just to teach me how to go down on a man. Now, every time I get down, she is there in my head, reminding me to breathe through my nose.
We are so much more than friends to each other. We are teachers, groupies, coaches, and therapists. Our catchphrases and periods are in sync. We keep each other’s secrets in pretty wooden boxes and carry them for years. We’ve cried, farted, and peed in front of each other. We’ve held each other’s hands and run into oceans. We start sentences with “no judgment.” We are more than friends, more than witnesses, more than confidantes… we are sisters. If we could find a single pair of pants that fit us all, we would pay the extra postage to get it home to home.
To all of my sisters, and you know who you are, thank you so much for your crazy, sexy love. For understanding that if your email is over two paragraphs long, I will not read it and that if your idea for an outing involves climbing, running, biking, or swimming, I will sleep through it. Thank you for suggesting that I move on when I just can’t get him to love me back, for laughing at my jokes, for knowing that I need coffee to function and a stiff dicking every now and again.
There are no ceremonies to celebrate these particular friendships… Valentine’s Days, anniversaries, and weddings have been reserved for more conventional commitments. But I had a thought: we may not have an event to profess our promises to each other but we have our words and we can always make vows to the people we love. So my dear sister friends, here are my vows to you.
Dr. Seuss once said, “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
Today, I’d like to thank you for embracing my weirdness and I promise to always embrace yours.
I vow to always validate your feelings. If you’re angry, I’ll hold the punching bag and if you’re sad, you can cry into my bosom. If you need to be spiteful and vindictive, I’m game for that too.
If you need a friend to accompany you to that exhibit, protest, or family party, I will grin and bear it. I will always ask if you’re okay before laughing at you for falling in public and If you are so drunk that you get up in a diner and start dancing to Annie Lennox, I will get up and dance with you.
I will always pick you up from the airport, the bar, or your house, and I promise to always tell you if you have food in your teeth. I vow to charm the shit out of your parents, significant other, co-workers, or other friends. I will always make light of the situation at exactly the right time because you can’t take it all so seriously, and I’ll make sure that you don’t.
I will relive my worst breakup to tell you how to get over yours, and when you cry over him, I'll gauge whether you want a hug and a gentle pep talk or if you just need to be left the fuck alone. When we go to buy wine to drown our sorrows (because your sorrows are mine), I'll say that two bottles of white is totally cool because you don't like red wine, even though red wine is a hundred times better.
I will never take more than thirty-six hours to get back to you on all the links you send me to read or watch, even though that shit can get exhausting. If you decide to start Sherlock on Netflix and suddenly find Benedict Cumberpatch dead sexy, I'll Google Image and YouTube stalk him until I find something attractive about him too, so we can fangirl at least a little together.
I will always remember your Starbucks order and your combination at Chipotle.
I promise to pick out the gaudiest dress I can find when we're shopping together and let you take a photo of me wearing it, because it makes you laugh so hard that you snort.
To my long-distance friends: even when I slip up and let months go by without calling or visiting, I promise that when we see each other again, we'll be cracking up over old in-jokes (and making new ones) like no time has passed at all.
When you're feeling down because your crappy boyfriend broke up with you via email, I promise to do dramatic readings of said email, complete with exaggerated hand motions and funny voices, just to make you smile.
I'll help you build your stupid IKEA shelf.
And if you ever forget how fucking beautiful you are and how much your friendship has changed my life, I promise to remind you.