It started on the giant’s ladder.
It started at the ropes course on the peer leadership retreat senior year of high school. Rosa and I literally pulled each other up every rung and we were the only group to make it to the very top. It actually didn’t really start there, but both of us will tell the story of the ladder as the day we became friends. It really started one day in October, a month after the retreat. After school we decided to take a walk through Prospect Park and proceeded to tell each other our life story. We had both been badly hurt the previous year by nasty friendships, and that day we decided to be the one friend in each other’s life that would never do anything like “that” again. We made a pact.
Our friendship has not been all rainbows and unicorns. We’ve had highs and lows, we’ve hurt each other despite our best efforts, and we excluded each other at times. But I cannot remember the last time I gossiped about Rosa. I talk about her with other people constantly but I can say confidently that I do not say anything I would not say to her directly. She is one of the very few people in my life I am completely honest with.
Our relationship works like it does because we’ve eliminated any fear.
The number one reason girls say they can’t tell people how they feel is because they are afraid they will loose the friendship. We made a pact together and it is that safety and that stability that allows us to be completely honest. During college, Rosa would freak out and say that distance would tear us apart. I’d reply sarcastically, “Yep, its true. We should probably end this now, why wait?” But now she says, “I mean what would end this? One of us saying something hurtful to the other person? I mean really, that wouldn’t do anything.”
I recently helped her move into her new apartment for law school with another one of her good friends from college. After schlepping couches and beds up four flights of stairs on a hot New York July day, we all had lunch. While eating, she completely ignored me and only looked at her other friend. She literally would ask a question and pretend I wasn’t there. It was so bizarre. I sat there incredibly uncomfortable, immediately thinking I had done something to offend her. I went into good girl mode and tried to help with whatever I could; calling the Apple Store to help with her computer that had crashed, offering to drive it to the city for her. Luckily, I work for GLI so I realized pretty quickly that I was apologizing for nothing just to fix the situation as fast as humanly possible.
I’m terrified of conflict.
But then, I remembered how strong we are. When I got home I called and said, “I don’t know if you knew you were doing this, but you were completely ignoring me and not looking at me. That made me feel terrible. What’s the deal?” She had no idea. Apologized. Explained she was nervous about her other friendship and was probably trying to be over attentive. I said I was sorry for not saying something at the time. And it was done.
The other day, we were on the phone and I was telling her a story. Twice she turned the conversation to herself. I said, “Dude I’m talking about my life not yours. Focus on me.” And she did. The realness of what we have sets the bar for anyone in my life. I don’t need all my relationships to compare or to be as honest, but I know what this kind of real friendship can look like and I know I don’t have to settle for less. I wrote my blog about Rosa because it is our friendship that helps me be real. I have her in my back pocket cheering me on, supporting me, calling me out when I mess up, and celebrating the real me.