Apartment 53

Apartment 53 was my first apartment in NYC where I lived on my own, and thus, where I really think of my life as a Manhattan woman beginning. I've always been fascinated by NYC apartments. Giant buildings filled with people, each with their own story. Windows everywhere. And I always wonder: what's behind them? What do people see when they look in from the outside? What is the real story of the person who lives behind that glass? This is my blog. A real story from a Manhattan apartment.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Best Friend's Wedding

I spent last weekend in the town where I grew up – a town I have not visited for years. The weather was beautiful, the memories plentiful, and the occasion: wonderful. My best friend of 27 years was getting married. My friend who is like the shrink I don’t pay, the idol I actually get to talk to, the sister I chose. This woman who I adore with every ounce of myself, with whom I have shared every piece of myself, who has been in my life for longer than everyone in my life except for my mother, was becoming a wife.

I met my best friend, V, when we were five years-old. She had just moved with her family from Manhattan to the ‘burbs mid-school-year so I was assigned to be her kindergarten tour guide. After we covered the basics, (sandbox, cubbies, see-saw, finger paints,) we were thick as thieves. V with her long brown locks, me with my pre-pubescent, home-styled bob – both of us with our honest, unapologetic giggles and hearts open to a friendship we had no idea would continue to grow and grow and grow in all of the years to come.

V’s parents would become like second parents to me. They celebrated our graduation from eighth grade by giving me a beautiful gold bracelet which I still keep in my jewelry box. V and I created songs in her mom’s home recording studio. We made up tunes about the bullies at school, boys we had crushes on, and dreams of conquering the stage. Some days we left the studio and went sledding or swimming, and we had countless gossip sessions at our countless sleep-overs where the only obstacle we faced was keeping our younger, then annoying siblings away from us.

In college, V studied her first love: music. Though we went to universities just a few miles apart, our worlds were very different and so we didn't spend much time together. Her friends were aspiring artists, and mine were aspiring attorneys. I learned how to straighten my hair while V learned to color hers with hues found in a big box of crayons. I dated frat boys and V dated actors. While I was in American History, V was probably learning to speak with a German accent. And though our lives had become very different, when it came time to drive back home to the town where we had grown up, the town where our friendship began, we spent four hours in the car unable to stop talking. No matter how different we seemed to be, with V and me, nothing much ever changed. Always we were each other's chosen sister, biggest fan, most trusted advisor. Always.

V became a professional musician, and one of my favorites. Her work can be found on my iPod and on the tip of my tongue at all times. Her shows at bars in New York City were some of my favorite outings in my twenties. I was so proud, out there in the audience, watching V strum her guitar and sing her poetry. My girl was living her dream. And as the years slipped by and the likelihood of her becoming a rock star did too, V did what most people never have the courage to do. She continued to live her passion. Writing. Creating. Singing. Inspiring.

V is one of the most special people I know. She is all at once perky and calming; sentimental and practical; emotional and rational; complex and easy to please. She is talented in ways that far exceed her musicality. V has an infectious giggle, an intentionally mischievous glance, a smile that makes everyone else smile. She talks avidly with her hands and carefully selects the words that she says to describe how she feels. She's goofy in ways that only fellow goof balls really appreciate - and luckily she surrounds herself with lots of those. V makes the most of days and can usually find a way to make herself laugh so hard she has tears streaming down her face. She has a way with people - almost anyone - where she makes them feel special and loved. She feels the weight of her friends' pain and goes to great lengths to see them out of it. She is what a lot of us are: a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend, a profesional... But V is all of those things one hundred percent, and manages to still give everything else one hundred percent too. I have never questioned where I've stood in V's life - she's never made me do that. She believes in telling people what she feels when she feels it. She'll call me from three thousand miles away at ten-thirty in the morning just to tell me that she loves having me in her life.

About five years ago V met a man. She was on a trip to Los Angeles and she met a man and when she came home she was madly in love. Soon he moved to New York, and soon after that they moved in together. I came to know this man she loved over beers in dark dives and when I slept on their couch while I went through a break-up of my own. And soon, I loved him too. It was impossible not to. He made my V so happy. Their love was gripping and enviable. It was built on things that are real like friendship, respect, support, and true passion – things that are next to impossible to find all wrapped up in just one partner. To be around them was to be around story-book love except that it lacked all of the superficial lust and instead included the real-life complications of real-life love. And a few months ago, this perfect man for his perfect girl popped the perfect question. And her reply was perfectly obvious.

Last weekend, V emerged from the woods in the backyard of her parents’ home. Her father led her down a tree-lined path toward the man that she has loved for so long and who she will love for an eternity. Her already beautiful face glowed. She had wildflowers tucked in to her hair, and she wore a long, white dress that flowed elegantly and proudly while she moved. Then she stopped beside her beloved and promised to be strong and honorable and loving for the rest of her days. And then he promised the same, and then they were husband and wife. We spent the night celebrating this union at a party, a wonderful party, I will note, that V planned almost entirely by herself. We danced and drank and ate and toasted and joked. We caught up with old friends and made new ones. We reminisced about high school parties and fights with parents and teachers we loved and classmates we couldn’t stand. It was the atmosphere of a typical party. But to be there, in the presence of love so real and lasting and profound, you have to realize that there was nothing typical about it at all.

V and I will probably never ride a sled together again. We’ll likely never write another silly song or be stuck in another monsoon on our way to Vermont. We’ll probably never choreograph another dance competition for her brother to judge and we’ll likely never have to sneak phone calls because one of us has been grounded. Those things are all in the past: memories to be cherished and told to our children one day when we are still best friends but have kids who need more attention than one another. So many chapters of V and me have been closed, but now V’s most amazing chapter has begun. I can’t wait to continue to be moved by her love and her life. And she knows that while my role now is a little different, a little smaller, I am always by her side.