Would you be your own best friend?
Special to Stars and Stripes November 17, 2023
As our car negotiated the tangle of ramps and roadways leading onto the bridge over the East Passage of the Narragansett Bay, I stared out the passenger side window, lost in my own melancholy thoughts. Thinking out loud, I said without looking at my husband, “I wish I was easier to please.”
Francis shot a glance in my direction, and I realized what he might be thinking. So, I clarified, “I mean socially, if I wasn’t so picky, I could’ve made a lot more friends over the years.” We were on our way home from a weekend in Boston, where we had visited Francis’ roommate from college and his wife, whom we’d known for years. The bridge signified that we were almost home, and I found myself wishing I had more friends close by.
During Francis’ 28 years on active duty, I’d worked hard to make friends at each duty station, often wondering if something was wrong with me. I’d hoped that, once Francis retired from the Navy, we’d become part of a local community, and friendships would come easier. But, it’d been nearly seven years since Francis’ terminal leave ended in 2016. At 57 years old, I still felt like the new girl in middle school, struggling to make a best friend.
“I wish I could meet someone more like me,” I continued. “You know, someone with a decent sense of humor and no competitive agenda, someone who can tell good stories, someone direct to the point of being blunt, someone who loves mafia movies, someone whose definition of fun includes garage sales, someone who enjoys chunky peanut butter,” I rambled on, chuckling at the oddness of my various traits.
“But then again,” I joked, as we heard the rhythmic thump-thump-thump of our car’s wheels climbing the east side of the bridge, “I’m not sure I’d even like me if I met myself on the street.”
This time, Francis chuckled with me.
I’d always been my own worst critic, cutting myself no slack, unable to accept compliments, doubting myself constantly. These were not admirable traits, I’d fully admit. As hippy-dippy as it seemed, I knew that “self-love” was important for happiness, but it had eluded me.
However, this line of thinking was something new. I’d never really thought, “What would I think of a separate and distinct me?” Ironically, the prospect of a new method of self-critique piqued my interest in harping about my own faults.
As our car reached the bridge’s apex, I looked down at the gray-blue bay 200 feet below and sunk deeper into thought, imagining sitting on one side of a diner booth, chatting with myself seated on the other side, over fries and Diet Cokes.
“Would I think she talked too much about herself? Would she think I lacked spontaneity?” I wondered. “She’d be irked that I didn’t call enough,” I thought on. “I’d wish she didn’t worry so much about everything. But she’d definitely get a kick out of my wisecracks, and I’d love her detailed, expressive stories. She’d let me brag about my kids as long as she could do the same. She’d tell me her deepest, darkest fears and insecurities, and I’d make her feel better,” I imagined.
“Actually, I think I’d like me if I met me on the street,” I concluded as Francis took the west side exit off the bridge, quite pleased that I’d assessed myself positively for once. “What about you?”
“I’d definitely have a blast with myself,” Francis said without a split-second’s hesitation. I could tell that his visions on the bridge had been of raucous frat parties, football game nights and pub crawls.
“You certainly would have fun with yourself,” I conceded with a knowing grin. But as he pulled into our driveway, I couldn’t resist bursting my husband’s self-love bubble with a prick of undeniable truth. “Nevertheless, Honey, you know the relationship with yourself would eventually sour, because you’d end up resenting him for always trying to be the center of attention.”
“Good point,” he said, and we laughed at ourselves, and them, too.
Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org