When I was growing up in Richardson, Texas, I didn't have many friends. Actually, I didn't have ANY friends.
When my family and I moved to this country in 1976, I had just turned 10 years old. I started out as a fourth grader in Mesquite, Texas where my siblings and I were the only Asians in the entire school. It was difficult making friends in a new school where I didn't even speak English. I was in a new school in a new country where people looked different and spoke different languages. Many of my peers looked at me with curiosity. Some resorted to teasing me for my differences.
I became shy and insecure, and had trouble making friends. Being introverted, I spent most of my time helping my parents at their shop where my siblings and I went to work every day after school. The weekends were not much different. We worked 7 days a week including holidays and had no time for friends.
The Korean population in Dallas area was booming at this time and there were many parties for young Korean teenagers. Every once in a while when I wasn't working (which was rare), I would go to these parties to meet other teenagers and hang out. Since I had difficult time making friends and didn't know anybody, I didn't particularly enjoy going to these parties. I never dated in high school and had very few friends let alone a close friend that I would call my best friend.
Since my parents were pretty traditional and strict, my siblings and I were not allowed to date until we went to college. So, I never went to my high school prom and was forbidden from all high school social gatherings and dating scenes. Then, I went to college...
Out of five kids, four of us went to The University of Texas at Austin. My oldest brother is the only one who went to Texas A &M. For my freshman year, my parents arranged for me to live with my cousins who were about my age. This is where I met my future BFF, Rosa.
Rosa is exactly one week older than I am and like me, she was born in Korea but grew up in Dallas. I had seen her few times at local parties and had heard about her but never got to know her until we met in college. This is because she was completely opposite of me. Rosa was very popular in high school. She was and still is very outgoing and completely extroverted. Everybody wanted to be her friend. She was extremely well-liked not just by the girls but by the boys as well. She was everything I wanted to be, cute and popular.
Since she was my cousin's friend, she would frequently come over to my cousin's apartment to hang out, and that's when we got to know each better and started becoming friends. Rosa was always a life of the party and knew how to have fun. Even though she had many friends and well liked by her peers, she was always kind and never judged others for their differences. That's probably why she had so many friends and everybody who ever met her liked her. She was attractive, likeable, and fun to be around. She's the one who introduced me to all the parties and night clubs in college. After that, I was hooked and I partied my ass off for the next four years. By the time we graduated from college, we were best friends. I'm not sure how that happened since we were so different or at least I thought we were, but she treated me with kindness and accepted me for who I was.
After we both graduated from college, we went our separate ways. She moved to Baltimore for few years and I moved away to Korea. When she got married 25 years ago, I was her maid of honor at her wedding. After I moved back to the US after living in Korea for about 6 years, I moved to California where Rosa was living with her husband at the time. Even though we were both in California, it was difficult to stay in touch. I was living in Sacramento and she was living in LA so even though we tried to stay in touch as much as we could, our busy lives kept us apart.
Regardless of the time we spent away from each other, she would always remind me that I was her BFF. She ended up having three kids and went back to school to become a nurse. Since we lived in the same state, I would occasionally visit her if I was ever in Southern California. My busy life as a business owner prevented me from reaching out to her more often. I missed her very much during those years. Why didn't I reach out to her more often during my difficult years is something I can never explain. Perhaps, I didn't think I was worthy and be accepted not knowing that she would always be there for me.
Thirty years have gone by and we're still "BFF". Beginning of this year, she ended her marriage to her husband of 25 years and became single again. Despite the difficult time in her life, she's bubbly and funny as ever. She hasn't changed a bit. To me, she still looks the same as she did in college and is still the life of the party. Somethings never change. :)
Last week, I went to Vegas to meet up with her and another girl who we went to school with. I didn't know her too well but she was one of Rosa's many friends from college. So, we got together in Vegas to hang out. We had a great time, and as always, Rosa made me laugh and it was like we were young again.
I'm so grateful for my BFF. As she makes the difficult transition to a new chapter in her life, I hope to be there for her as she was there for me when I desperately needed a friend. She has no idea how much her friendship meant to me in those days when I felt lost and alone. She accepted me for who I was without judgement and loved me when I didn't even love myself. I can never forget what she said to me last week in Vegas as she gave me a hug and said "you're my BFF, you know that, right?". Yes, she is my one and only BFF and I love her dearly..
As we giggle our ways into our old age, I hope our friendship never dies. I love her for the funny and caring person she is as she cares and loves me for who I am. I feel so lucky to have her as my BFF..