Do You Know Who Your Friends Are?

I have a dirty little secret. TV characters are my friends. It’s true.

When my husband and I were first married, I was unemployed, and I took advantage of that time to learn how to bake cupcakes and watch the Gilmore Girls series in its entirety. My husband would come home from his job at the university, and I would carry on about Lorelei and Luke and how it was just so terrible that he was breaking up with her, but he really wasn’t being fair. And Rory, well, she and Dean were so good together, and I just didn’t understand why things were falling apart. He nodded sympathetically with a cupcake in his mouth. We had only been married a month or two, and he knew all my friends in Boulder, but he still didn’t know any of my friends from my hometown on the East Coast. So it took me by surprise one day when he looked at me oddly and said, “Wait, are these people in Pennsylvania?”
“No,” I laughed. “It’s the Gilmore Girls.”
“A TV show? All these people you’re talking about are on a TV show?”
“I thought they were your friends.”
How could I tell him they were, kind of?

Now I work at home, and there are days I find myself getting engrossed in the lives of Meredith Grey and Zoe Hart while I’m waiting for my laundry to finish or my lunch to heat up. We’re besties. Sometimes I even hang out with Clare and Rayna in Nashville. They take me to all their shows, and I have front row seats, not like those poor people who have to stand in the audience where it’s all crowded. And then there are the contestants on the Biggest Loser. We laugh and cry together, and I get them. And I’m pretty sure they get me too. I know better than to prattle on about their lives like they are my bosom buddies, but they are. We all know it.

TV friends are the best. They don’t make you talk too much, but if you want to, you can just jump right in. And their lives are so darn interesting. I mean really, how many friends do you have who massage hearts during surgery when the power goes out or perform concerts in front of thousands of people and fly around on private jets? I get to be right there with them, on the plane and in the OR, and I never even get blood on my hands. I know you’re jealous. Admit it.

And I almost never have fights with my TV friends. They accept me. Sure sometimes we disagree, and I yell at them, and they look all sad, but it never lasts long. After about 30 to 45 minutes we are usually ok, and everything is patched up. We’re all happy, and life goes on.

My TV friends are perfect for a wanna be hermit like myself. They never care if I’ve had a shower or if my kitchen is cleaned up. I don’t even have to leave the house to hang out with them. And they are ready whenever I am, unless of course they take the week off from being my friend, and I have to wait for them to get back from vacation or the moon or wherever it is that they go? I’m not jealous or anything. Maybe a little peeved that sometimes they leave without telling me, and I can’t find them. But no, I’m not really mad. They’re the best. Seriously.

I have what other people like to call “real friends” too. Sometimes we go out for coffee or lunch, and on rare occasions, I even have them over to my house. Sometimes we chat about our lives and sometimes I go on and on about some relatively tiny inconvenience for at least 20 minutes, and can you believe their eyes start to glaze over? That never happens with Meredith. She’s great at eye contact.

Sometimes my “real” friends are kind of boring, not like my “other” friends whose lives are seriously a non-stop adventure. And sometimes my “real” friends and I disagree, and I have to bite my tongue and not say what I think because it would hurt their feelings, and it’s such a pain having to think about their feelings and keep my mouth shut. Why can’t they be more like Zoe? She lets me disagree with her and tell her how stupid I think she’s being, and she never gets upset or thinks I’m rude. They’re my friends, no matter what. So low maintenance. Love it.

I was out with a friend the other day. A friend that I actually felt like I had to get a shower and brush my teeth for. Serious strike. We were both having a hard time with some things, and our nice little chat turned from talking about how we love the beach and how Whole Foods is really ripping us off to issues like life and purpose and identity. We sat there in public and before I knew it, she was crying and I was crying and our hearts were out there on the table, exposed. It was terrifying. I wanted to run to my car, throw on my sweats, and settle into my couch to spend the rest of the day with my “other” friends. They wouldn’t ever make me feel this way. Sure we cry together, but it’s just crying. I feel for them, and then it all gets fixed. I don’t have to feel their hurt. They take care of everything.

We stood there together, and I hurt. I hurt for her. I hurt for myself. I felt like life just walked up and smacked the crap out of both of us, and we sat there together crying. And then we hugged.

My “other” friends have never hugged me. I told this “real” friend that I think she’s a wonderful person. And I meant it. Every word. It was hard to know what to say to someone who was actually listening. I realized that my words matter. Our relationship matters. We are co-constructing this friendship, and I am half. She cares about me. I care about her. And in that moment when we hugged, we became even better friends.

But this real life thing is hard. Sometimes I’m mad or I have to say I’m sorry. I hurt people. And they hurt me. But I also get loved, and I get the chance to love. And that is something that is missing in my life with my “other” friends. You know, Zoe never really asks me what’s going on. It kind of upsets me. It’s like she doesn’t care. And the Biggest Loser contestants, well, they’re nice, but they haven’t asked how much weight I lost this week. It’s almost like they haven’t noticed.

They’re still totally cool. I get it. They’re busy.

But this “real” friend thing. Well, it has a few perks too. Like being heard. And living life together. And having someone to laugh with and cry with who actually knows what you are talking about and cares. And maybe it’s worth the whole having to get a shower thing and sometimes biting my tongue. I mean, I’m sure they never have to do that with me, but I guess I can learn to be that kind of person sometimes. And there are hugs.

No offense Meredith and Zoe. But your hugs, well, they’re pretty non-existent. And I’m the kind of girl who needs one every now and then. So maybe I’ll grab a shower and some coffee and talk to real people while I drink it, even if they aren’t the kind of people that have a private jet and don’t hold beating hearts in their hands for a living. They’re still my friends. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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