Today, as with most Mondays, lunch-break conversation turned to the weekend just passed. I happily told my colleagues about my Saturday night in the city for a dear friend’s 21st, and my Sunday afternoon at the theatre seeing Coriolanus for another dear friend’s 21st.
“Is that the one who lives up the coast?” my workmate asked.
“No,” I answered. “Saturday was the one from university. Sunday was the one from high school”.
“Which is the one from up the coast?” he asked, by now a little confused.
“Olivia,” I said. “And her 21st was last year”.
While he laughed, I realised, not for the first time, how bad I am at nominating bests and favourites. Ask me to name my favourite book and I forget literally every book I’ve ever read. ‘What’s your favourite food?’ is an impossible question. And, as I’d just proven, I have a good handful of people who I introduce as my best friend.
Ever since I left high school and could suddenly choose who I spent my time with, I’ve found the concept of ‘best friends’ limiting and outdated. I expanded my social circles; I found people I genuinely liked, rather than people who just happened to be in my class. I left friends behind and made new ones. When the world was suddenly full of beautiful, clever, interesting people, why would I want to limit myself to one, to pick one and say ‘this one is best’? My friends are wonderful, gifted, lovely people with so much to offer, and every single one of them has helped change me and my life for the better. I have people I am closer to, people I spend more time with – but choosing a ‘best’ friend would, to me, devalue the impact these amazing individuals have had in my world.
Nowadays, I have a circle of friends who, if pressed, I would call my bests. My oldest friend, Alice, my nap time neighbour from pre-school. Lara, my first high school friend who saved me a seat in seventh grade science. Olivia, from uni, who I wish I’d met earlier. Angela, the friend of a friend who became my friend. Sam, my first real guy friend. Liam, who I started out hating. Every one of them is important to me. Every one of them holds a special place in my life.
The same can be said for other ‘favourites’. Films? The Lord of the Rings, my first grown-up movie. The Avengers, which I shamelessly adore. Only Lovers Left Alive, which I first saw last week and fell immediately in love with. Bands? Coldplay, my first real concert. Imagine Dragons, my new love. U2, my first and forever favourites. Books? Harry Potter, who I grew up with. The Fault in Our Stars, which I read because everyone else was. Good Omens, which I never expected to love.
Even cities and countries are impossible to order. I love New York, in summer and later at Christmas. But then I remember London, eight years old, meeting my family for the first time. And Paris, mangling the language with my tiny tongue and mastering it years later. Brussels in the snow, celebrating the end of high school. Queenstown, learning to ski. Tromso, under the Northern Lights. Stockholm and Copenhagen and the train between the two.
The reason I struggle so much with ‘bests’ and ‘favourites’, I think, is because I have been so very fortunate for someone still so young. I have met incredible people who I am lucky enough to call my friends. I’ve devoured books and films and music with an insatiable appetite, savouring every word and note. I’ve been some truly remarkable places and done some truly remarkable things. I’ve never gone hungry. I’ve always had choice. I can’t pick the one thing I enjoy best of all because, I think, I’ve been blessed with opportunities and experiences that make the list too long to narrow down.
This is not a complaint, not even close. The fact that I struggle to choose favourites is only evidence of how deeply lucky I have been.
I’m not concerned with labelling my best friends or picking my favourite films or ranking cities from best to worst. I choose instead to enjoy everyone who enters my life for what they bring to it, to watch films and read books and listen to all the music I can, to eat good food and go new places when the chance comes my way.
I am very, very lucky to lead the life I lead.
Picking bests and favourites from such a wealth of wonders seems almost petty in comparison.