My best friend Lemmon and I have been friends since our first week of high school, and even though we often hung out with different groups of people, we always stayed close. We walked together when we graduated, and she was excited for me when I left for New York, and I took the train from Union Station in LA to visit her in Santa Barbara. After she graduated college, we lived only five minutes from each other and did so much together that I joked with everyone that she was my wife.
Four years ago, she fell in love with an MIT grad student and a year later moved to Boston to be with him, and after he graduated they moved to Atlanta. The best part is that she and I never lost touch, and we both feel out of balance if we go more than five days without calling each other. She just came back to California for Christmas and New Year's, and fortunately we were able to spend a fair amount of time together.
The day after she arrived, I drove us up to LA to have lunch with a couple we're both friends with. I decided to revisit Pizza Fusion, a restaurant where I had dinner a childhood friend last summer. They make their own gluten free pizza crusts and brownies, and have nondairy cheese. Lemmon had mentioned something about being willing to try gluten free pizza, so I looked at the menu, looked at her, and asked, "Would you want to split a large gluten free pizza?" Without hesitating, she said, "Sure, dude." We asked the server if we could sample the two different nondairy cheeses, and he willingly brought out two small bowls for us to taste. She started eating the soy cheese and commented on how much she liked it. When we ordered our drinks, she asked what gluten free hard ciders there were, and ordered the one he recommended. Part of me was a little blown away. Yes, this girl had stood by me when others wouldn't, but in some ways that's an easier part of being a best friend than being happy to eat gluten and dairy free.
My other friends are hot and cold with my dietary restrictions. When I threw my friend Curry a baby shower, I made a dish with quinoa pasta and didn't tell anyone until after they started eating. She-and everyone else-loved it, and her stepmother ate the leftovers straight out of the bowl. Curry's husband even bought me a six pack of New Grist Sorghum & Rice Beer so that I could try it. But after the shower we decided to go out and eat, and another friend who was also pregnant dictated where we ate because of her cravings. I studied the Creperie's menu and realized there was nothing on it I could eat, and it was clear she couldn't have cared less.
I realized that there are the friends who will accommodate you, and the ones who will eat the things that don't taste too strange with you. Then there are the friends who don't care and want you to simply take care of yourself so that they don't have to worry about it. I didn't expect there to be friends who would experiment with you.
Lemmon voluntarily ate and drank the same way I do, and she was happy for the new experience. A part of me had wondered if the time and distance between us had changed our friendship, but I realized it hadn't. She's still the same loyal and supportive friend I have always known. That day I sat across the table from her and thought, Now that's a best friend.