As I've gotten older I've started referring to certain of my friends as my sisters. "They're family," I'll explain when I'm describing them to someone else. Our familiarity and shared history set them apart from newer friends, even those I clicked with instantly and fell in love with for life. My family understands me and can often support me better than the family I arrived to via parental fertilization and a well-timed trip down the maternal canal. You can't substitute anything for years of knowing each other. Time marinates friendship until it's seasoned and robust. Time is friendship's greatest friend.
There's a friend I've had since high school, one of many I've recently reconnected with. We must be getting old because many of us are coming together now closer than we ever were in high school, cliques and social pecking orders long forgotten. My friend Jack and I can trace our friendship to tenth grade marching band. [Editor's note: January's reference of high school marching band in no way implies or should be construed as a statement that she was in marching band or in any way was or ever claimed to be a band geek.] I'm pretty sure he was at my sweet sixteen, and I definitely remember his 18th birthday party - I met his cousin. We ended up dating. I was a dithering, hormonal idiot - but that's a discourse for another time. Jack and I always flirted, but then, what guy didn't I flirt with? See remark on hormones, above. We lost touch some time after college and then reconnected at our ten year reunion. He was married with a baby. We were in touch for a bit but there was a nagging feeling in me that I couldn't give him what he wanted... We never discussed it and lost touch again.
Facebook brought us back in touch a few years ago, and by this time he was divorced and living with his girlfriend. He very enthusiastically picked up our friendship again and again I ended up putting distance between us, sensing he wanted something more and not feeling comfortable about it. Living with your girlfriend is about as verboten as being married. End of Friendship, Part II.
Our 20th reunion was held in August and again we reconnected. He was still with the girlfriend though talked of it coming to an end. It was good seeing him - he was one of many lovely connections I made that night. We picked up our friendship again and started occasionally talking on the phone. He broke up with his girlfriend and moved out on his own, as he'd spoken of. I told him of blowing him off ten years earlier and apologized for it. He told me he'd always had a crush on me, and I appreciated his honesty. And I was flattered. Our conversations took on more depth and frequency, and we've been texting and speaking every day. It's nice. Here's a man who knows me, likes me, and isn't trying to get into my pants [Editor's note: Yes he is. But not before it's time, and not instead of getting to know January. The way she figures it, by the time he is ready to get in her pants, she will have torn his off and thrown them out the window - so she's cool with his time frame]. We've made no promises to each other, and both of us have things to tend to in the immediate future that precede getting into a relationship. But I've really been enjoying it. Jack is like a brother to me. Family. But with this brother, we can kiss and stuff and not get that oogie feeling or be arrested for our affection. All the dirty thoughts I can imagine are perfectly legal and welcome. Pretty cool.
This Fall's been a bear with a lot of change and upheaval in my life. But hanging with Jack, even on the phone, has been smooth and easy. What a beautiful thing.