How TikTok and “Sex and the City” made me rethink love stories

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what constitutes a friend. The qualifiers and the levels all associated with it. What distinguishes someone as a true friend versus someone you spend time with? An issue I had in the past (and still suffer from) is failure to define, creating the boundaries between different categories of friendship. I consider myself close with a lot of people, but am I actually? How many can I consider a true friend, a partner, a protector of my own interests who hold me in the same regard as I hold them?

My friend Eliya sent me a TikTok the other day that featured a quote about female friendship — that it is a ferocious, ugly, messy, emotional creature we are never taught to train. My first reaction was to laugh, because it’s never that deep. Friendships are simple. Easy. It’s romantic love that’s the complicated kind. But the quote has rattled in my head as I’ve been studying abroad, separate from the people I call home.

Sometimes I forget where my best friends begin and where I end. Their friends are my friends. My belongings are their belongings. Their house is my house. The lines are blurry to nonexistent at times. No topic is out of bounds. We consume each other’s emotions. We ruminate over situations, strategizing and theorizing in our imaginary situation rooms. We tell each other our secrets. Our shame. Our burdens. Our pain. Do you remember last winter when I held you in my arms after you told that boy you loved him? Gone. The light reflecting off your tears, which I had never seen from you before. The tremble in your voice as you described his rejection of him. But it’s not just the difficult parts that we share. We also cheer for each other. Praise one another for putting ourselves out there. Uplift one another when we feel we might have fallen short. And although you were shaking, I could not stop thinking how strong you are — for taking that risk, for being vulnerable. I am proud of you; I know you’re proud of me too. I could hear it in your voice months later, in the summer, miles away from one another as you cheered me on for going on my first New York City date. We give and give and take and take and take.

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