I met my first interviewee inside a laundromat on Noriega Street. She was standing next to a man who seemed to be her husband. I was walking up and down the street, looking for prospective interviewees, when I noticed the undeniable chemistry the couple inside the laundromat seemed to have. Intrigued, I came in and introduced myself to her. I explained that I ran a column on the web, and that my particular column revolved around love, in all its forms. As she nodded along and added Oh!s and Okays at the appropriate times, I noticed that her interest seemed to be dwindling. With a sudden sense of urgency, I offered to show her the types of questions I had. I proceeded to take out my various index cards for the different questions: relationship, self-love, family, and friends. I thought that, for sure, she would pick either the relationship or the family card. To my surprise, I saw her chuckling along to the questions on the friendship card, as if recalling some precious memory. To ensure that this moment won’t pass me by, I hurriedly ask her if she can do this interview for me. She responded with a hesitant, but excited, “Sure.”
Elyse is 62 years old, and she met her best friend when they were only 4 years old. The sound clip below is a recording of my interview with her.
“I was 4 years old… in the backyard… playing, and she walked right up to me… and said, ‘Can you play?’”
When Elyse told me that she was 62 years old, and she met her best friend (who is still her current best friend) at the age of four, my heart just melted into a pile of warm chocolate (I would say goo, but chocolate’s more appealing) I just couldn’t believe that friendships lasting for that long would be a real thing, especially since most high school friendships don’t even survive. As she was telling me the story of how she and her BFF met, I was instantly reminded of how my best friend and I not exactly met, but more so decided to be friends, and then eventually best friends. It was third grade, and I was playing with my best friend (at the time), when she was suddenly called on by our PE teacher to dance. Feeling lonely, I decided to walk around the playground and look for someone else to cling to. After about 15 minutes of doing just that, I was surprised to see my best friend strolling towards me, with one of her other friends in tow. Once they reached me, my best friend looked at both of us (me and her other friend) in the eyes, and with a careful tone, expressed, “Guys, I can’t hang out with you anymore. I’m part of the popular crowd now.” The moment she said that, my heart sank. What did she mean, we can’t be friends anymore?! What?! I was filled with complete disbelief, and was even on the verge of crying, when, out of nowhere, a sassy voice cut through the silence and confidently stated, while simultaneously glaring at our shared ex-best friend and shooting a carefree smile at me, “Fine, we didn’t need you anyway. We’ll be friends.”
From then on, we hung out together, ate lunch together, played Shark together, basically did everything together. Elyse’s story gave me hope that even though high school is about to come to an end, my best friend and I can still remain close with each other. We still have one more year of high school left, and besides stressing over APs and college apps, I hope I get to spend the majority of time I have left making more memories with her.
“She is a strong person…”
When asked what she admired most about her best friend, Elyse admitted that she’s constantly surprised by how strong her best friend is. As she said this, I was reminded of one of my closest friends. I don’t know the reasoning behind Elyse’s description of her best friend as “strong,” nor did she seem willing to reveal any more information to me, but judging by the glint of her eyes and her sincere smile, I could tell that her friend had undergone many battles to earn that description. As soon as Elyse mentioned her friend’s strength, I was instantly reminded of one of my close friends, as she also embodies of what it means to be strong. I don’t want to broadcast her struggles for the Internet to see, but I would just like to commend her ability to get hurt and still manage to forgive. Behind her tears is a girl who was hurt so many times, but refused to let the negative events going on in her life get to her, until she finally reached her limit. But even then, she still tries her hardest to be there for the people that hurt her, without any regards to whether or not the person apologized to her. I just find it so remarkable that such a person exists, one who has so much love in that petite little body of hers, to go around giving her love away like it’s nothing. Everyday, I aspire to reach even half the amount of forgiveness and love she has.
“She has been a real source of strength for me, throughout my life… she has been my rock.”
Once again, Elyse’s description of her friend fascinated me in the sense that I would use the very same words to describe my current friend group as a whole. We lovingly refer to each other as “Potatoes,” a name conceived from our collective admiration of french fries. Though our group name may portray a silliness that can only be attained through a sense of innocence, the truth is, our group has experienced so many hardships that we can be considered as anything but. We may seem like a bunch of rowdy, carefree teenagers, but in reality, we have all experienced something that has changed our perspective. Together, we trudged our way through family problems, drama from other relationships, stress from school, workload, as well as breakdowns stemming from the inevitable end of high school and whatever may happen after. Through thick and thin, our group has supported each other through means of hugs, laughter, memes, and playful banter. I can never express how thankful I am to know that, even at my lowest points, at least four people will always be up for a two-hour phone call, a call that can go from talking about how stressful a class was, to worrying over college and our future, and somehow ending on something random, like debating whose “shot” is the wettest. Though I’m terrified that after we go our separate ways, our group dynamic may never be the same as it was, I am still grateful for all the times, tears, and tissues we’ve shared throughout our journey together. I know that after all we’ve been through together, I can confidently say that my friends are my rock; they are the epitome of what it means to have friends, aka the family we choose for ourselves. I just hope that like Elyse and her friend, we’ll be able to stay close together and still be able to laugh and cry together, 40, 50, or even 60 years later.
My interview with Elyse was really eye-opening for me, because I never realized how much impact my friends have made on me. Thinking about it now, my friends have inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and to treat other people with more kindness and respect because one can never really know what another individual is going through. Friends are an integral part of my life, and after my talk with Elyse, I know now that friends, just like family, food, and shelter, play an important role in people’s lives, a role that has the power to influence our lives in more ways than one.