“Trina, do you have a best friend?”

Someone recently asked me this question, and I didn’t have an honest or thoughtful answer. I guess the answer is no.

I have close friends, friends who know some secrets, friends from different times in my life… but no best friend.

My first best friend ever died when we were in high school.

We met in kindergarten and loved to play “pretend” as our favorite musical divas– we often argued over who got to “pretend” to be Selena or Mariah. She usually won with the argument that her waist-long hair was longer than mine, and she therefore looked more like our favorite artists. I, on the other hand, had learned how to use scissors and cut off all my own hair.

We were always running, hiding behind trees, and drawing pictures of each other. We talked about life’s questions– like why girls had boobs, whether or not our teachers lived at school, and why there were so many worms all over the playground after it rained.

We drifted away from each other, as friends do sometimes, and I later learned that she was sick. I still remember the letter I wrote to her when I found out– I remember the parts of the paper I couldn’t glide my pencil over, because it was damp with tears. The very last time I saw her was on accident– we bumped into each other at church, and she had cut off all her hair.

I didn’t reach out. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to do the whole “goodbye” process to someone who was dying. So I didn’t.

I figured that– if I keep people at arm’s length, it’s enough to touch each other’s lives, but far enough to keep from breaking each other’s hearts. I suppose part of me still believes this. 

I kept my distance, and I still wonder if my 16 year-old self would’ve done anything different knowing what I know now.

So I don’t have a best friend.

And I’m learning and unlearning.