Tamara Turner/TMD.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on what constitutes a friend. The qualifiers and the levels all associated with it. What distinguishes someone as a true friend versus someone you spend time with? An issue I had in the past (and still suffer from) is failure to define, creating the boundaries between different categories of friendship. I consider myself close with a lot of people, but am I actually? How many can I consider a true friend, a partner, a protector of my own interests who hold me in the same regard as I hold them? 

My friend Eliya sent me a TikTok the other day that featured a quote about female friendship — that it is a ferocious, ugly, messy, emotional creature we are never taught to train. My first reaction was to laugh, because it’s never that deep. Friendships are simple. Easy. It’s romantic love that’s the complicated kind. But the quote has rattled in my head as I’ve been studying abroad, separate from the people I call home.

Sometimes I forget where my best friends begin and where I end. Their friends are my friends. My belongings are their belongings. Their house is my house. The lines are blurry to nonexistent at times. No topic is out of bounds. We consume each other’s emotions. We ruminate over situations, strategizing and theorizing in our imaginary situation rooms. We tell each other our secrets. Our shame. Our burdens. Our pain. Do you remember last winter when I held you in my arms after you told that boy you loved him? I do. The light reflecting off your tears, which I had never seen from you before. The tremble in your voice as you described his rejection. But it’s not just the difficult parts that we share. We also cheer for each other. Praise one another for putting ourselves out there. Uplift one another when we feel we might have fallen short. And although you were shaking, I could not stop thinking how strong you are — for taking that risk, for being vulnerable. I am proud of you; I know you’re proud of me too. I could hear it in your voice months later, in the summer, miles away from one another as you cheered me on for going on my first New York City date. We give and give and take and take and take. 

I am a hopeless romantic. From the media I consume to the stories I write about, romantic love has always been paramount. It’s not like it’s hard to obsess over it. Media is saturated with love stories. Countless books, podcasts, movies, TV serieses and more are all dedicated to the pursuit of love and keeping it. My favorite TV show used to be “Sex and the City.” For months, I watched religiously as Carrie chainsmoked her way around New York City. You would often join me on the couch of our house, holding Socratic seminars on Carrie’s shenanigans. Would you have gotten back together with Big? How could anyone break up with Steve? Why do you like Aiden? Despite the hours we spent discussing the show, we still managed to miss the point entirely. The men came and went, treated like minor comedic blips, but the core four — Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte — remained, brunching and bickering as usual. That’s the true love story of the show. Despite whatever happened romantically, fans knew as long as those friendships were there (ignoring the reboot), everything would be fine. 

So do all great love stories have to be romantic then? It’s seemingly reinforced that romantic love is the only love worthy of writing an entire album over or book on. But not for me anymore. The friends that I’ve made, they’re my big college love story. Not one of those random fuck boys I keep tripping and falling over for. When I look back on this season of my life, I won’t think of these minor comedic blips. I won’t think of the people I just happened to spend time with. I’ll think about you. I’ll think about the hours we spent on the phone, screaming at each other for fucking up once again. I’ll think about the aimless walks, where we don’t have the slightest clue of where we are going. I’ll think about the viewing parties, joking about Wattpad. I’ll think about the time we spent growing and building together. It’s messy, ugly, beautiful and everything in between. In the longest most convoluted way, I wrote this just to say I miss you. I love you. I’ll see you soon.

MiC Assistant Editor Katherina Andrade Ozaetta can be reached at kjao@umich.edu.