I was helping my best friend clean out her basement recently. We do this every couple of years: she hoards a basement full of stuff and I get to come over and help her organize it. And by “organize it” I mostly mean I tell her to throw it all away.
Nothing makes me happier than throwing stuff away. I was a fan of the minimalist lifestyle before it became popular; I keep nothing. Well, except my books. Don’t tell me to get rid of my books or I will cut you.
I love cleaning out Krissy’s basement; I love the feeling of progress; I love the before-and-after magic as I pull away from her house. Krissy, on the other hand, just stresses out the whole time this is going on. She is attached to this stuff–she kept it for a reason–and I’m just telling her to get rid of it all. Having watched many episodes of Hoarders, I realize that some people love their stuff a lot more than I do. And there’s nothing wrong with that (people loving their stuff, there’s definitely something wrong with the people on Hoarders) so I have to be aware of how ruthless I’m being as I tell her to trash piles of paper, baby clothes that will never be worn again, and party decorations from her oldest daughter’s first birthday (she’s eleven now, by the way).
To make matters worse, her three daughters and my two daughters were running around the basement destroying any kind of progress we made. Nothing makes a toy more valuable or fun in a child’s eyes than when there is the threat of getting rid of it. This logic also applies to Krissy a lot of the time too. After a few minutes of me lovingly reminding her (actually, not lovingly at all; she’s not here to defend herself but I am ruthless during basement clean-out time) that we were trying to make the basement less full, she turned to our daughters and said, “Girls, when it’s time to pick your best friend, come and talk to me before you make any decisions.”
Our daughters, who are used to our nonsense, completely ignored her sage advice. I, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious and the greatest friend suggestion I had ever heard. She said it a few more times as the day passed, whenever she was annoyed with me or thought I was being especially cruel to all the treasures she had accumulated in the basement.
The nice thing about Krissy and I is that we have the same sense of humor. Plus, if a joke goes over well, we tend to stick with it for a long time.
Girls, when it’s time to pick your best friend, come and talk to me before you make any decisions.
The longer I sit with that statement, the more truth I find in it. Don’t tell Krissy I think she’s wise though because she will never let that one rest. But as I think about my daughters and the relationships they’ll start forming soon, relationships that are outside my realm through school or sports or clubs, I pray that they’ll find friends that will uplift them, encourage them, and let them be themselves even when it’s messy and ugly.
I met Krissy the first week of sixth grade when she was new to our school district and running for student council. I thought running for office as the new kid was very brave and probably told her by making fun of her. She probably responded with something mean and sassy and that was the beginning of our beautiful relationship.
We went to middle school church camps together, took spring break trips with her family, cruised around our small town in our “new” cars when we turned sixteen, took our dates to prom together. She got a fake ID so we could celebrate my twenty first birthday in New York City; I held her first child within an hour of her miraculous entry into the world; I had the honor of being her maid of honor in her wedding. We’ve cried together on the phone, complained about husbands to each other, cleaned out basements, and hosted garage sales where we hoped people would buy all our junk (normally though, she’d just buy all my stuff and take it home in place of the crap she had just gotten rid of).
I got lucky when she picked me as her best friend.
We’ve also had ugly fights, periods of not talking to each other, hurt feelings, and miscommunication. One of my biggest regrets in life is the fight we had as I planned my wedding that led to her not standing up as my matron of honor and not attending my wedding.
Krissy has taught me how to forgive, how to love well, and how to be a good mom. She helped me egg my first house, get over my first broken heart, and decorate my first apartment (I use the term “decorate” very loosely). We’ve made lots of bad decisions together, but we’ve made lots of good ones too.
So when I think about my daughters choosing best friends, I pray that they get one half as good as mine. And if they truly do need help picking out a best friend one day, I’m sure Krissy and I can put together a great brochure complete with graphs, charts, pictures, and suggestions. Once we figure out where all the craft supplies are in her basement…