We all have acquaintances -- people we see at work or casually in our daily lives. There are also people in our lives that we genuinely like. We keep these friends because they have similar interests or a combined history.
Finally, there are those few people who have risen to the top, the ones we love and cherish. If you're lucky, you'll meet a couple people who qualify for this group...in your lifetime.
It's an elitist club because it is difficult to trust and care for people so completely. Yet when friends reach this plateau, we ignore their flaws. We avoid fighting with them. When long periods of time pass between contact, the rapport instantly returns, as if it's only been a few days rather than a few months or years.
Those of you who've read this column for a while know about one of my bonds. Before she died, Amy was most surely my best friend. She was the one person in the whole world who knew all of my secrets. Hell, she was there for half of them.
We had our own language, full of catch phrases and stories. We could sit comfortably in silence or talk for hours about anything and everything.
It had always been that way between us. The first night we met, our friendship was instantly forged. She and her friend Chris had decided to hang out at Kellys, a local pool hall. My friend Steve and I met them there.
It took us a while to get into the place because the four of us spent a long time just standing out in the parking lot, talking about nothing (Seinfeld had nothing on us).
FLIES AND BUICKS
Soon, it became clear that Amy was interested in Steve. Once I noticed, I announced that she and I should make a beeline for the bathroom. I can't explain why other women feel the need to go to the bathroom in groups, but Amy and I usually did it to set our plans in motion or to calm our often turbulent feelings.
Once I explained that Steve and I were just friends, and she was welcome to him, she was sunk. Since she didn't know me very well, she had no idea what was coming.
We met Chris and Steve at a table where they were haphazardly shooting pool with some other guys. Steve gave me an odd look, like he knew I was up to something. He walked behind me, perhaps to question my motives, and started to give my shoulders a friendly massage. Not to be outdone, Chris went over to Amy and began to do the same.
My response? To loudly announce, "Hey, let's switch!"
Yeah, I'm about as subtle as flies and Buicks.
But the look on Amy's face was priceless. She turned bright red and her eyes bulged out a little bit. Taking my cue, the guys switched massage jobs, and the trouble began.
It worked, though. Amy and Steve got together for a date the very next day and spent a bit of time together as a couple thanks to my subtlety. Before they went out, Amy called to thank me for the nudge. We spent four hours on the phone. How many people can you chat with for four hours straight?
I honestly don't think Amy and I were ever strangers. We were simply best friends waiting for the right time to meet. My life was certainly more enriched by it.
We had a bond, she and I, one that has outlived her death and will probably continue for the rest of my life.
I'm still connected in a small way to Steve and Chris as well. While we're thousands of miles apart, and it's almost 10 years later, they were there when the bond was forged.
Amy was also in my life, many years later, when I formally bound myself to Raven, a man I once loved. In fact, she officiated the ceremony.
The ceremony was called a handfasting, and in Scotland, this ritual is used to bind two people into a "trial marriage." The marriages lasts up to a year and a day, at which point, the couple decides whether to make it a legal marriage or not.
Until then, they are husband and wife -- two people who've been bound at the wrists (and usually at the souls) in front of witnesses. If you saw the movie, "Braveheart," you've already seen a handfasting in action.
When we were handfasted, Amy was there. She spent a good 30 minutes locked in a bathroom with me, doing everything she could to calm my nerves. Much like any other bride, I was a basketcase.
She liked Raven, and helped me overcome those nervous moments enough to get dressed and get to it. Without her in that bathroom, I never would have been able to do anything.
Her very presence cemented my relationship with him as well. Though our "marriage" didn't last (we handparted before an official wedding could be held), Amy is still one of the bonds that connect us.
Two years later, I was the one who called and told him she had died. He could have heard the news from someone else, I know, but I felt it should come from me.
Some bonds are just too magical for words. We don't always know why we instantly and eternally connect with one person over another, but I believe when it happens, we should definitely take notice. In the end, these are the people who really make life worthwhile.