Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Friendliest Lobsters Have the Worst Breath

I was told this week that my relationship with one of my closest male friends is comparable to Ross Gellar and Rachel Green (from Friends, in case you were raised under a rock). Initially, I didn't see it and laughed it off; Ross and Rachel are an on-again-off-again couple, who break up and get back together countless times over the course of, what, ten seasons, before figuring it out. 

It didn't make sense initially, because we've never broken up and gotten back together. We've been friends for far longer than we've ever been romantically involved; we tried that briefly and it didn't work. We haven't had any knock-down, drag-out fights, nor have we had passionate moments of making up like Ross and Rachel repeatedly have throughout the show. We've dated other people, we've gone weeks without speaking...Ross and Rachel never spent a full day apart. And then eventually, they got over themselves, fell in love, had a baby, and that was that.



So at first? Nah, I don't see it. 

That said, I let myself keep thinking about it these past few days. Between a function with our company, an after-hours work project, a movie, and a sleepover, I've spent a number of hours with this fella this week. And while we are friends, and while I appreciate that invaluable friendship, I am also smart enough to see the boundaries that we cross, the lines that we blur. We're definitely mutually guilty of that.

We had a too-drunk-to-drive-home sleepover at my place last night. We didn't have sex, didn't even kiss - we didn't cross any of the physical lines we've put in place for our relationship. But we shared my bed, we held hands, and we cuddled close all night long. We then laid in bed together this morning watching TV while spooning, snoozing off and on, and sharing the quiet. 

The question is, where are the actual boundaries? Where do you draw lines that separate you from being Just Friends, to dating casually, to hooking up, or to being in a relationship? Life used to be so easy, where if you made out with someone, you had crossed a line. But now here we are, 30 years old, and the opportunity to blur physical boundary lines are prevalent. I wasn't allowed to have boys spend the night at my house when I was in high school, so those boundaries were just always in place. That's no longer the case. If I have too much to drink, I often crash at a friend's house, and the same goes both ways. So, where are those limits? What boundaries do you have in place to protect you heart, guard yourself from accidentally catching feelings you are not prepared for? When you parents aren't there telling you to be home by midnight or to make sure there is never a boy in your bedroom, how do you decide what will keep you from getting hurt?

My best friend texted me this morning, jokingly asking if I'd made a "good or bad decision" last night; meaning...when we all parted ways after the movie, did I go home alone or with company. I was sharing a warm, clammy cuddle at the time - the kind of cuddle that fits with a hangover. A looming headache, morning breath, makeup in the corners of your eyes. We laughed when I read the text aloud, responded that I'd made a good decision but that I was not alone in bed...

"Mmmmmm...I feel like just sharing a bed together is way more confusing than straight up having sex." 


Again I ask, where do you place boundaries with your friends of the opposite sex to keep things on a platonic level. How do you maintain a friendship more like Joey and Phoebe as opposed to Ross and Rachel? When you are determined to be Just Friends, how do you make sure that it works that way, stays that way? 

The reality is, when you start seeing all of the ways that your relationship is, in fact, similar to Ross and Rachel, you also start to see that Ross and Rachel are really not friends. They are two people who have deeper, non-platonic feelings for each other, who take years to realize and act on them, but who fail at other attempts at love in the mean time. Ross and Rachel have a chemistry that can't be avoided, they blur lines and cross boundaries that they don't cross with their other friends. And that's because Ross and Rachel were never Just Friends in the first place. 

Because, Lobsters. 

There isn't really any rant or rave here, nor am I attempting to make any real point; I am mostly just looking back over the past year with this amazing fella in my life, trying to remember at what point he became this vital to my world. Trying to think back to the moment that we transitioned from casual friends to two people who know each other better than anybody else. At what point he became the person who knows what I'm thinking before I even realize it myself. At what point he realized I was one of the few people in his life who can interpret him, as opposed to the people who just know him on the surface. There was a moment just a week or two ago that he told me he was looking back (probably the same way I've been doing today) and realized that he and I are, as he put it, cut from the same cloth. We understand each other's weirdness, the way we each tick, what we like and what scares us. I'm grateful for it. don't get me wrong. Every complicated blurred line, every ignored boundary, every emotionally charged conversation is a reminder that he isn't going anywhere, that we get each other, and that we need each other. 

If you remove the television drama, the marriage in Vegas, the accidental daughter, and some over-the-top details, Ross and Rachel are really just two friends who know each other better than anyone else. I mean outside of the fact that they are secretly in love with each other and take ten years to figure it out, I suppose we're a bit more like Ross and Rachel than we thought. They're two people who have each other figured out, who can be a friend, a therapist, a guide, or who can just be there.

And I couldn't appreciate that any more than I do. 

Even (maybe even especially) when I wake up to the smell of stale Corona and unbrushed teeth, after falling asleep in a complicated, confusing, comfortable cuddle next to the fella with whom I share a fear of what's most comfortable.