Photos by Michaella Jelin Till of Yellow Bird Visuals
Words by Sarah Crawford
I do not know what it's like to have a blood-related sister. I do know, however, what it's like to choose a sister. I think love is a choice. Whether it's romantic or platonic, you have to keep choosing to love a person over and over again. Only fools believe that they will find their perfect best friend, soulmate, or lover, and live happily, unchangingly, in love forever after. One or both of you will grow and change over many years, or just all of a sudden, and one or both of you will have to accept, grow, and love each other despite your differences, old and new.
Catie became my best friend 12 years ago at youth group, where we both felt like outsiders, despite definitely being in the "in crowd." We called ourselves "Saturn's Outer Rings." Catie is well-read and sarcastic, but also sometimes so kind and thoughtful that less-innocent people try to take advantage of her pure heart. I am stubborn, selfish, and pretend to be confident even when I'm not. She loves trash TV and John Wayne, I love all things British and Kanye West. Catie loves living in the South, I couldn't wait to get the hell out and see the world.
We are both proud. We both love to stay in, throw parties (usually at our house, so we're still technically staying in), eat too much dessert, daydream about weddings, and flirt with boys. There have been a lot of boys. But our lifelong friendship is not 100% due to either our differences or our similarities, but rather to our commitment to one another. When you decide that someone is in your life for keeps, you come to love the things she loves and understand why she hate the things she hates. She worries and goes crazy when you date the wrong person or make a choice she disagrees with, but she sticks around for it knowing that regardless of what happens, she wants to be here for you.
You are not always good to each other. You say regrettable things about each other, you act out against each other and sometimes feel your lives heading in such different directions. And yet when you really love someone, you eventually have to learn to put aside your pride and call her up and say sorry. Maybe it doesn't always start with sorry – it's hard when you're stubborn – maybe it starts with watching your favorite Harry Potter together. Spontaneously performing your favorite song together. Bringing home a jar of Nutella. Remembering to throw away the nasty hairs you always leave on the wall of the shower you share. And then you love each other again. You never really stopped.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think that in modern times, friendships are so much more important than romances. And our romantic lives can benefit so much from being treated like our most tried-and-true friendships. So maybe, this Valentine's season, we should take a step back from idolizing the traditional, sexual, marital ideas of love, and celebrate all the ways in which we love our friends – our true chosen families.