How Do You Keep Your Friendships Going Once Everyone Starts Coupling Up?

We stuck together. That is, until we grew out of it.
Publish date:
November 29, 2013
friendships, holding on

It started with just me and CeeCee in Jamaica. It was her 24th birthday and she decided we were going somewhere exotic seeing as how this was some kind of milestone. In our minds we were firmly out of our early twenties. College was two years behind us and according to us we’d officially arrived at adulthood.

She rented a condo on the beach that slept six in anticipation of the tidal wave of friends clamoring to buy their tickets. In the end it was just the two of us, sleeping in the same king-sized bed because murder.

That trip is when we sealed the deal. I think it was me jumping off a cliff into the ocean that did it. It would be us against the suckers every summer from then on out. Eventually we would make it to a nude beach in the Virgin Islands, me getting violent food poisoning and her making out with a stranger in Puerto Vallarta and a bunch of us trying to get CeeCee laid in the Bahamas.

One perpetually un-invited friend (because penis) dubbed our regular excursions “the annual black woman’s conference” and we amended the title to include one Mexican and a native New Yorker. Still the name stuck and, most importantly we stuck together. That is until we grew out of it.

How one outgrows their best friends, I’ll never know. What happened was we all got boyfriends, but not just the regular kind, the “He’s a keeper” kind. By CeeCee's 30th birthday, she was already over us. When I sent out an email with the subject line, “Fuck yeah, 30” with just one question in the body -- “where we going?” -- CeeCee made it clear that she was spending it with her on again off again now again love, Ken. He’d replaced me as her person and I was pissed.

But instead of telling her how discarded I felt, I said nothing. None of us said anything. We’d been demoted to second string. But wasn't that the goal all along? To get your girls hitched or at least taped up to someone good and then step back and watch them try to win at the three-legged race we call a serious relationship?

We formed bonds during those “cheesy destination” travel years. Realized how much the life we were paying for on the beach seemed more like the real thing than the ones we were paying for back home. No matter how far flung -- LA, DC, NY -- when we met up at the place someone pointed to on the map it was as if the miles and minutes that stretched between us didn't count for anything. But the paradigm had shifted and it looks to be permanent.

We went from “Where are we going?” to “How was your trip?” without any clear understanding of what had really changed besides the date on the calendar. Is this what getting older's supposed feel like when it comes to friendship? A faint itching near the amputation site?

In high school, after my “rite of passage” ceremony (yep), one of my many “god mothers” who’d changed her name to something more exotic sounding -- Janet Vanessa became JénVi -- warned me about my friends at the time, “Hold onto to these girls because you don’t know where you might end up.” Then she banged on a bongo and my mom read a poem.

Anyway, more than a decade later and I've been doing a terrible job holding on. The solution sounds easy: Just call more, make plans, Gchat for god's sake. But nothing ever is, is it?

If someone was holding a gun to my head right now and demanded, "Make your New Year's Resolution in the next 10 seconds and it better be sincere, or else!" The first thing I would say is, get the "Annual Black Women's Conference" back up and running again. I might get shot because it sounds ridic but it's so true.