“Love is friendship set on fire.”
I grew up hearing this. That love is electrifying touches and magical kisses.
That love is better than friendship. The princess never longed for a best friend, she longed for a prince to save her from the fire-breathing dragon. Of course, all we read about was that beautiful ‘first dance’. You know, the waltz that leaves you breathless, hearts beating beautifully in sync. Followed by whispers of “you complete me”, as if we humans, with our flaws and dreams, aren’t complete in ourselves. As if we’re a puzzle with a missing piece, broken without it.
But what about the part after that? After that fairy-tale wedding and “happily ever after”- a tale to tell young children?
What about, you know…life? The conversations that flow easily, that feeling of finally coming home to yourself? The laughing till your stomach hurts, and ugly crying that follows a bad day? What about the bits that a perfect wedding, great sex, and first dance can’t solve?
See, I grew up, spoon fed on these fairy-tales. Chasing lover after lover till I fell back into the arms of best friends. Feeling my way through heartbreak just because the world turned my soulmate into a checklist, telling me that friendship would only be the background to my happily-ever-after. But I reject that.
I reject the idea that love consumes friendship, that a perfect lover can shamelessly step over the back of the perfect friend. Of course, I still want my happily-ever-after. But I want that with a bond strengthened by friendship. You know, someone I can laugh with. Someone I may have loved in the past, without falling in love with. Someone I can talk to for hours over the phone, even when its 4 a.m. and my eyes are plagued with sleep, but my hungry ears cannot stop listening. Someone who has seen me at my worst and not only in the pretty made-up party gown I may have worn for our first date. Someone who sees my dreams and gives them the wings of understanding – the knowledge that I’ll always be supported.
I suppose I want a best friend. You know, that one person who digs through the ruins of my past and reminds me of the sagging foundation of greatness within. Someone who is beautifully imperfect – who doesn’t look like ANYTHING out of the stories I grew up believing. Who isn’t a checklist of the things I need for happiness, but an actual, living, breathing, flawed, yet well-intentioned person. Someone who doesn’t swoop into my life and save me, but teaches me that all I really needed to be saved, was myself. Sex? Yeeep. That’s important. But so are the awkward jokes only people who are friends before lovers can crack during sex. Jokes they both will laugh at, falling deeper in love with each other.
So, dear world: you’ve got it all wrong. Because this, this is love. It is not something that ignites friendships, it is simply something that teaches us that perhaps the perfect love is friendship all along. That perhaps the importance isn’t in the grand, romantic gestures, but in the tinier moments we often experience in friendship. So, my dear soulmate: let’s be friends first?