I apologize in advance to all of the people that this blog will make seem gay.
I feel like I first became lonely as a teenager. I can't be certain, but I think it may have been directly affected by the death of my best, and unimaginably beloved, friend when we were 11 years old.
I didn't think of Jake as someone who I needed to fill a "best friend" void in my life. When he died, he left a void I didn't immediately notice. I don't believe I felt a compulsion to find a new best friend, or any kind of replacement. I thought the world was just going to be this way now and that perhaps I would further develop my existing friendships in this suddenly Jake-less world. But the void was there.
I recall becoming conscious of the numerical status of my friends when I realized Jacob was my #1 friend. Other friends were not demoted. My friendship with Jacob simply surpassed what had been capable with anyone else. I don't know how to describe what Jake and I shared. Planets collided, chakras were opened. Basically I discovered a deeper level of intimacy in friendship than I had known. It felt like we were of one mind.
When I met Jeff, I felt that indicative spark that I recognized from before. Whether real or imagined, created from my madness, I began to long for the intimacy I had once shared with Jake. Jeff and I did indeed reach that level of friendship and now I love him just about as much as one person can love another. His friendship was priceless during my most difficult years. He is someone I admire and whose opinion I value. We laugh together endlessly. I never have felt as though Jeff displaced Jake the way Jake had displaced my other friends, but that he had joined him in rank and importance, superior only by being present. Even now, no matter how far apart our respective roads take us, our hearts remain close.
Then Kyle joined the ranks, as the first best friend of my adult life. I can only say the same about our friendship that I have said about Jeff 's and Jake's. We mentor one another, speak openly of our strengths and weaknesses, laud the others successes and endure the others disappointments. We share a love for impassioned interest in literature, film, food, and music. And video games. He and Jake had that in common. Our friendship has been wonderful, necessary, rewarding, painful, joyous, heart-breaking, exquisite and an incontestable privilege.
I am incapable of describing what Neal and I offer one another. We feel a familial bond, concerned with the deepest and most important aspects of the others life. We have supported one another through turbulent times and continue to do so.
Over the years the exalted title of best friend has proved to be reserved for only the finest. New best friendships are limited only by circumstance; we do not have the freedom to coexist on a daily basis the way I once did with Jake, Jeff, and Kyle. We instead have to settle for weekly, monthly, or even yearly visits. I cannot fully describe what each one offers me, but I care about all that they are and all that they do.
A lot of people describe their wife as their best friend but it took me a long time to do that. I so highly valued the title that I didn't think it was right that she get the honorary title just because she was my wife and thus diminishing the importance the existing friendships had for me. Kim's friendship was wonderful, but it was romantic love that drew me to her.
Or maybe it just takes time.
I thought I was feeling the maximum amount of love one can feel for another person when I married her. What has since amazed me, however, was what happened to romantic love when the friendship between us became a best one. I can honestly say now that Kim is my best friend. Just as before, she didn't replace or obscure the relationship I have with the others. They are what they have always been, and I hope always will be.
She is of course unique in that we are responsible for one another. I'm hers and she's mine. Without her there would be parts of myself I would never know. She has been my biggest fan, my kindest critic, my greatest forgiver, my most devoted nurse, and my very dearest companion.
The amount of love I feel for her has grown beyond anything I imagined could be felt. This is our story, and we are living it. I can't believe how lucky I am.