I’ve had the same best friend since I was two years old. From diapers to directing films in high school, we’ve grown up and changed together. Ever since I was scrawny toddler dressed in my mismatched clothes, I’ve had him beside me influencing and affecting who I grew up to be. He and I had been thrown together as kids, an unassuming pair as a result of our parent’s friendships and out of pure luck, we happened to click. Evidence of our fourteen years of friendship hanging half-haphazardly from tacks shoved into my walls years ago. Each print, a mix of pixels and colors displaying various moments from our childhood.
When I look through each picture of us looking embarrassingly idiotic I can’t help but picture the nights spent together as kids. The two of us sitting there, huddled together and murmuring to each other, our voices the only sound resonating in the miniscule room. The pitch black space erupting in white light as our chubby fingers flick the two flashlights on. The bright light suddenly illuminating our scraped-up faces. We would recount ghost stories, read comic books, imagine we were the rulers of everything in the world. There was no end to what we could do, to what we could imagine inside our fantastical minds. Everything when we were kids seemed so utterly magical, all I had wanted to do was explore it all.
For my six year old self, the most incredible thing I could imagine in real life was the Philadelphia Zoo. Forty-two acres of asphalt, water, and grass filled to the brim with seemingly thousands of animals. We peered out the tinted windows of the rusting car, ignoring all else as we tried to glimpse the enormous zoo before us. Unable to contain our excitement we leaped out of the car before it’s dirt covered wheels had even stopped spinning and the zoo seemed never ending. Pictures of ferocious lions, cuddly koalas, and creepy insects plastered the walls of the zoo. In each direction was a new source of awe and wonder. We howled at the monkeys, roared at the lions, and tried to coax the snakes out from their dens. We scampered around the zoo attempting to emulate the very animals we saw. They sat majestically, only inches of crystallized glass keeping us from our potential playmates.
The zoo was every dream of ours brought to life. A mix of myth and reality that filled our minds to the brim with wonderment. We wanted to be as fast as a cheetah, as strong as a rhinoceros and as tall as a giraffe. Yet, even the marvels of the real world couldn’t compare to our greatest idol: The Amazing Spiderman. There was nothing like him, he was everything we dreamed of being and here was a chance. An opportunity to don the red and blue and become our hero. After 30 minutes of squirming in our chairs and our strongest attempt to ignore the incessant itching as our faces became caked with color, we emerged as two Spidermen. We came out proud and new, under the guise of someone else. The difference between us and Spiderman melting away with each stroke of heavy blue paint. We stood side to side, our pose perfected and our eyes serious. In our minds, we had placed the mask upon our faces and had become super. Then, in a bright flash, it all ended, captured forever in one 8 by 10 print.
For eleven years I’ve kept that print hanging on my wall, accompanied by an addition of crazy and fun memories of the past. Nothing seems to have changed between the two of us. Time didn’t matter between us, we always got back into that same groove. We were like two puzzle pieces, we could always slot back together and get into our old ways. Growing older with him has helped me become a better person and I’d like to believe that I did the same to him. We had never really been cool, more of a pair of awkward outsiders, but we had always stuck it out together and helped each other become the best versions of ourselves.
We spend so much of our life around other people, that it becomes essential that we choose to surround ourselves with the individuals that care about us the most. Your circle affects your personality tremendously, regardless of whether you spend five, ten, or fifty years together. What’s most important isn’t whether you have the most or the coolest friends, it’s whether you have the right friends. The friends who care about you the most. The friends who will be there when you’re a jerk and help you when you’re down. Find your second spiderman, the rhino to your cheetah, your partner in crime. Think about yourself as a puzzle piece waiting for the right partner, if everything’s right, you can come together and create an amazing picture.