Will it sound weird if I say I came into college not really expecting to make friends? And not in a weird, victimized, emo way, but in a very practical, manage-your-expectations sort of a way. School was school, and friends happened in the life around and outside of that.
It was high school's fault. In high school I only had one friend from school that I saw outside on the weekends. Her name was Kate, and we bonded over being sophomore transplants that didn't really fit in with the Edina tribal community that had all been together since daycare in diapers.
Kate transferred her junior year from San Diego. I was even more of a freak, and arrived on the scene from Uzbekistan my sophomore year. Cultural shock and typical high school insecurity kept me from making a ton of friends from school. The kids at school were terrifying and other-worldly. They talked mostly about that-one-time-at-summer-camp and eyed outsiders suspiciously. Although I didn't like not having a ton of friends in high school, I managed and found friends outside of school and it was okay. And that was okay because growing up overseas I was well-practiced in making good friends quick and then saying "good-bye" calmly and indefinitely. I was transient. My life was fast-paced.
So when I got to college I didn't think I'd make friends who were in my classes or in my dorm. I'd make friends somewhere and somehow, but not in school.
Then I met Meghan. Most people don't deserve friends like Meghan, I certainly don't. But for some reason, Meghan loved me and therefore we became friends. She invited me to study at the library, come to coffee shops with her and her friends, she introduced me to everyone. Honestly I thought she was a sophomore the first time I met her because she knew everyone. I didn't understand how it was possible to be on a first name basis with a tenth of the study body population and still just be three weeks into your freshman year. But that's Meghan. She makes friends and always assumes the best of people.
She assumed the best about me and took me under her wing. I accepted this shelter gratefully as freshman year was turning out to be harder than I had expected. I missed my family, I missed Minnesota, classes were a bit harder than I had anticipated, and I fell in love for the first time with a boy. We broke up and I was heartbroken. Meghan bought me chocolate, and let me cry myself to sleep in her dorm room. Because that's what best friends do. I started asking questions about God, and taking an honest look at myself and realizing that this emotionally detached, nomad, artsy girl thing that I was doing wasn't fulfilling. Most of the time I felt lonely.
I was a consumer. Growing up overseas and constantly uprooting had taught me to take from relationships. You never knew how long you had with people, so if you liked someone you better take all the love, laughter, attention you could get before moving on. I didn't like the thought that relationships require take and give. I never gave, it was too vulnerable and dangerous. So I greedily took. I took from Meghan and she never reproached me. She just kept loving me and pursuing me even when I was an awful brat of a human.
One day we (there was a solid group of four of us by this time, Meghan, Niccole, Emily and I) were sitting on the floor of Meghan's dorm room (because she was the only who really invited people into her room.) Freshman year was coming to an end, and we were getting wiser. We all had been dated and broken up with, we'd had fights full of tears and driven by petty insecurities, but we kept coming back to each other because we had no one else. And because we were learning how to be people who were good and kind humans. We had weathered the storms of our first year of quasi-independence and come out the other side.
"You're the girls I think I'm going to have in my wedding someday," Meghan announced that afternoon on her dorm room floor. "I've never had friends like you, you're my girls."
There was a warm glow in the room for a second before I came in matter-of-factly with "Well, if we're all friends then."
I didn't mean anything by it, other than the simple fact that in four, five, ten years we might (probably) not be friends. I had never had a friend longer than a few years. There was no way of really knowing if I'd be friends with Meghan by the time either of us got married. Maybe I just said it out loud to manage my own expectations. The thought of having friends that lasted that long into the future was unimaginable to me. I'd never had them before.
Meghan's face, however, said everything it needed to. I was selfish enough not to noticed how hurt she was, and she was sweet enough not to challenge me, but she was hurt. Understandably, since I apparently had the emotional maturity of a cavewoman.
I'm ashamed to say I didn't know how much this hurt her until a few years later when she was engaged, and notably, we were still the best of friends. She was marrying the boy who had broken her heart that freshman year, and asked us girls if we wanted to be her bridesmaids. Of course we said yes.
"You never thought this day would come did you?" she asked me with a twinkle in her eye.
"Huh?" I was still oblivious.
She told me about how we weren't suppose to be friends by this juncture, and suddenly I remembered it all.
Meghan is one of those friends you get once in a lifetime. She's in and committed, whether you deserve it or not. I certainly didn't. But I'm so grateful she didn't give up on me. I didn't know how to be a friend, I didn't know the joys of what it meant to love people and give your time, energy and emotions to them. Meghan taught me how to love people who might not fully know how to love me back.
A few years later I told her I met a guy at a concert in a coffee shop. I told her I might be in love. She told me that she already loved him because I did. And she still does. When he came to town to visit, he stayed with Meghan and her husband. When he planned to propose, he brought Meghan into the plan. When we got engaged, I asked Meghan to be my bridesmaid, and she helped her disorganized friend make her wedding dreams a reality.
We were in each other's weddings. We're still the best of friends. She's still one of my top humans and I call her when life feels too hard and crumbling. And notably, she calls me when things are crumbling for her, because I've finally learned to give love and not just take it. I learned it from the best, I learned it from Meghan.