[Note from Camille: Friend, writer, and guest blogger Elizabeth Paulson is funny, talented, and beautiful. Her smart take on V-Day will make you want to be her best friend, too.]
Do not fret. I’m not going to be down on Valentine’s Day. I’m not going to meow about it being a holiday invented by the greeting card companies. I’m not going to say it’s unfair to single women . . . or even those in relationships. (Like, on what planet would I think standing in front of the garbage in the “Bud Light Party Pit” at a local youth hockey game makes for a romantic gesture on the part of Boyfriend? Riddle me that, world. Or Boyfriend.) I’m not going to wax bitter about all the terrible Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had. (I already did that in 2010.) I’m not even going to suggest we all just keep our heads down and muddle through this February 14th the best we can.
On the contrary, I’m all for taking the day to celebrate love and relationships. I’m all for chocolates and I’m certainly all for jewelry. Big dinners and fancy hotels are also totally endorsed by me this year. Only instead of being all smoochy with whatever man may or may not be in my life, I’ll be wishing I was spending the holiday with my best friend.
Remember when, growing up, it was the cool thing to have a best friend? And then it became the cooler thing to have a boyfriend? And then it was the coolest thing of all to have a gay best friend? I think we might have come full circle and are now in an era of best female friendship. Not that one must shelve the lovely males in her life. By no means! I just think best friends might be having a moment.
Now, one’s best friend isn’t one’s dog. She’s not your mother. She’s not your sister and, sorry, she’s not your cousin. Those are fantastic people, but they’re not Best Friends. Your best friend is the girl who lived on the next cul-de-sac over when you were growing up. Or the only other girl who got injured as much as you did in gym class. Maybe she sat in the cubicle next to you at your first job. The important thing is that something in you clicked with something in her and you’ve been soul-mates ever since.
While others reserve their pity for single people, I feel worse for those without a best friend. There’s nothing wrong with being single or not having a best friend, but I think it’s lonelier to be without a best friend than a boyfriend. They’ll always make more boyfriends. But someone who can read your mind when you’re stuck talking to a drip at drinks? Or curate a Sephora-based care package to cheer you up? Or correctly guess “pennant” in Pictionary when all you’ve drawn is a triangle? Dream on if you think a boyfriend can do that.
Being left brokenhearted by boyfriends over the years is no treat, to be sure, and it stings the most on Valentine’s Day, but have any of you ever been broken up with by your best friend? When life gets in the way and she’s not who she used to be and suddenly you’re without your other half? Exquisitely painful! There’s nothing like that kind of loss. Years after we stopped communicating, I still miss the best friend whom I’d thought was The One. The boyfriend I thought was The One? It took a bit, but I got over it.
Boyfriends and husbands are nice work if you can get ’em. But they’re no Best Friend. Nor should they be, the darlings. So this year, get into Valentine’s Day with your significant other if you’ve got one. Go to dinner, drink champagne, get pressies. But take just a second to wonder if you might not be having more fun were you sharing the bed that night with your best friend, who stays on her side, doesn’t snore, and doesn’t hog the covers. Or going on a road trip to your favorite Great Lake with her. Or being accidentally wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey with her. I betcha you would be having more fun doing that than eating oysters and drinking the house wine. I know I would. Happy Valentine’s, lovahs.
Elizabeth Paulson is the author of 98 Ways to Find a Great Guy. She lives and writes in Green Bay, Wisconsin.