Like any relationship, friendship changes over time. Things like marriage, job relocations, parenthood, and illness all can step in and change the nature of a friendship. Even the most resilient friendship can change over time. Some friendships fade altogether, others subside only to be rekindled years later. New friendships are formed and cemented.
But sometimes, if we're really lucky, we have that one friend (or if we're REALLY lucky, two or three friends) with whom the bond is just as strong now as ever. Our BFFs. Besties. Friends for life.
The friendship might look nothing like it did back-in-the-day, but the magic is still there. No matter how long it has been since you've last seen or talked to each other, you fall right back into that sweet spot. You might communicate primarily via text or email, and you may not have had an actual conversation -- much less seen each other in person -- for months or years. You might be living in different parts of the country, or different countries all together. You might have different jobs and parenting styles, religion and political views. But for some reason, those things don't seem to matter. (Well, not that much anyway.)
You have been through the good and the bad and the ugly, together. You've seen her vomit as a result of too much Boone's Farm, morning sickness, and chemo drugs. She ate your horrible black bean brownies and supported you when you finally admitted that you had an eating disorder. You danced (badly) to "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" at your high school prom and then again at both of your weddings.
She saw you naked when you were college roommates, with minimal awkwardness; you've felt her post-mastectomy and pre-reconstruction breasts, also with minimal awkwardness. She offered to dye her hair purple after that "coloring mishap" in college; you offered to shave your head when she found out she had breast cancer.
You know things about each other that most other people don't. She knows when, where, and with whom you lost your virginity; you know how often she is (or is not) having sex now. You know she has a complicated relationship with her mother; she knows that you had a complicated relationship with becoming a mother. You've shared makeup, bras, and breast pumps. And you know her celebrity crush is still Justin Timberlake; she knows yours is still Johnny Depp.
There are lots of reasons you are forever friends. Because of your shared past, yes. But also because of you are there in the messy present and because you will be there for the uncertain future. Because you were there then, are there now, and will continue to be there.
But, for the most part, it all comes down to this: You both show up. Again and again and again. And after all this time, being together still feels comfortable and safe, like home.
It is just that simple. And just that complicated.
Christine Organ is the author of Open Boxes: the gifts of living a full and connected life. She writes at www.christineorgan.com and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.