What is a best friend?

Apparently today is National Best Friends Day. It comes at a time in my life in which friendship and the very meaning of it has been something I’ve questioned.

So, what is a best friend? Being a little bit of a grammar stickler, I have trouble with those who claim to have multiple best friends. Don’t they know that “best” means the one that stands above them all? Dictionary.com states that a best friend is the one friend who is closest to you. How can you have multiple people fill one role?

However, that being said, I find it very difficult to look at all of the people in my life and choose just one who is above all of the other friends. I think good friends fill different roles in our lives, and which friend is relied on depends largely on circumstance.

So, is my best friend the girl I met in second grade? The one who I had virtually nothing in common with? She was loud, I was quiet. She was blonde and tan, I was freckled and redheaded. We fought all the time throughout childhood, but we would always make up and end up even closer. We played Barbies and read Sweet Valley High and I visited her when she moved away and we spent summers together. We even went to college together and were roommates for a short time. Of course, we fought all through that too. We haven’t spoken in a few years until last week, and it was as if we’d never lost touch even for a moment.

Or is it the girl who lived across from me in third grade? The one who was exactly like me? I never had to ask her what she was thinking because I was thinking it too. We created some individuality in high school, but we never lost closeness. We discovered we do have differences – she’s left-brained, I’m right-brained. She’s more conservative than I am. But I can count the number of fights we’ve had in 20-plus years on one hand. And when we get together to have coffee, we are still the same two girls that would spend hours entertaining ourselves in our neighborhood, the same two girls that were attached at the hip in high school – I’m not sure one would be recognized without the other.

Or is my best friend the girl I met in college, who lived with me for years? We shared a bed for a while (not like that, sickos), and we didn’t even kill each other. We even shared boyfriends occasionally, and again, we didn’t kill each other. We shared secrets and dreams and fun times and hard times. We did everything together – shopping or driving to class or going out. I held her when her boyfriend left her and she held me when my dog died. If schedules get in the way and I don’t see her once a week now, something is wrong and we both remedy it as soon as we can. She even let me marry her brother (now that is love.)

Or is it the guy I met just two years ago, but I feel like I’ve known him my whole life? The one who likes everything I like? We had an instant connection when we met. Running, graphic design, poetry writing, art, coffee. All of these things in common. And we can get up at 5:30 to work out or be out until 5:30 partying (usually not both in the same day …) I cried when he crossed the finish line at his ultra relay (he ran 36 miles) and he cried (okay, we both did) when we got into a fight and almost ended our friendship a year and a half ago. We fight like cats and dogs, to the degree that often people wonder if we’re a dysfunctional boyfriend/girlfriend, or perhaps we must be brother/sister. We do everything together. If I don’t hear from him for an hour I start to wonder what is wrong.

Or, is it the man I met 10 years ago? The one who swept me off my feet the moment he opened the door? No one understands me like he does; no one complements (and compliments!) me like he can. Even his scent is intoxicating (he smells like dryer sheets; I kid you not). He refuses to fight with me. He’s the only person I know that can deal with my stress. He talks with his hands and I get giddy because the sight of his hands turn me on. He can be talking about computer parts and I’m blushing like a schoolgirl. When he put a diamond ring on my left finger, I knew that I was the luckiest girl in the world.

I suppose the answer to this might depend on the moment, might depend on circumstance, and might ultimately be irrelevant. The truth is, good friends are hard to find – sometimes, the bad friends are much easier to spot – and I’m a lucky girl to have a best friend – or best friends, grammer be damned.