One month ago I had the joy of hosting my best friend since 5th grade for the weekend. She drove down from Gainesville in her blue Hybrid, “Chauncey,” and slept on my dorm room floor, on a mattress pad, enduring communal showers and microwaved food just to spend time with me. Every adventure we had together, getting waffles and French fries for breakfast and trying to recreate childhood photos in Disney World, left me feeling happier and happier as old memories flooded back and new ones were created.
My bestie and I hadn’t seen each other in two years, a fact neither of us realized until we tried to make plans to meet up. Not only that, but it was our 10-year friendship anniversary—ten years since we were fifth graders fighting over a box of crayons that didn’t rightfully belong to either of us, and just days later having this classic interaction:
Her: “Want to be my best friend?”
That interaction led to years of email conversations, stuffed animal play dates, failed two-person book clubs, and trips to just about every attraction our hometown and the surrounding area had to offer.
“The other day I was talking to my mom,” she told me as we sat on my dorm bed. “We were talking about you, and my mom said, ‘You and Kelli are going to be friends forever. You know that, right?’”
And we do.
If you are so lucky as to have had a close friend since elementary or middle school, here are 10 things that might happen when you spend time together.
1. Old memories are stirred up and you realize you’ve forgotten some of the happiest times of your life.
“Remember watching the Flight 29 Down finale in your family’s RV and how we FREAKED OUT when the deranged pilot showed up?” “What about the time I drove to your house the morning before the first day of 8th grade to give you a good-luck friendship bracelet?”
2. You can go literally months or years without seeing each other and nothing feels different when you finally reunite.
Age 10 and age 20.
3. You can be 100% yourself.
Maybe you like making random noises while you think, or want to expunge your worries that your new deodorant isn’t working. With your best friend, you can.
4. You rarely have to explain what you’re thinking; you just share a look.
5. You share intel about where people from your childhood ended up.
“Whatever happened to that girl all the guys in our class had a crush on? Or the kid who pushed me down in the cafeteria?” “So-and-so? Oh, she went crazy—total party girl now. I don’t know about the guy—let’s see if he’s on Facebook.”
6. Sometimes you have trouble acknowledging that things have changed.
“You haven’t had Publix fried chicken since when? Oh, that’s right—you’re vegan now, aren’t you?” “You’re a public relations major? What happened to wanting to be a professional singer?”
7. But mostly it just warms your heart to see how much the other has grown.
Our extremely failed attempt to recreate a childhood photo. Please note the red-shirted man in the bottom photo.
8. Your favorite activities feel extra special when you realize you’ve been doing them together for so long.
Bananagrams is one of my favorite games. But reminiscing about playing it with my best friend in seventh grade, as we play it together in our last years of college, puts everything in a new perspective and leaves me feeling warm inside.
9. Being together is like time traveling back to your childhood.
10. And you’re reminded of where you’ve been, who you are, where you’re going.
Any time spent together leaves you feeling reassured, full of happy memories, and excited to see where you’ll end up in another ten years—and you’re confident you’ll still be best friends then, too.