One day, many years ago, in the most underrated time of life (adolescence) I met my person. There were no fireworks, no instant connection. In fact, it was more of an eye roll and a “I know she’s not interested in the same boy as me” type situation, but that’s how all the best friendships start anyway. Through a series of events, we became friends, then best friends, then the kind of people who are one soul split into two bodies. Christina Yang is my person.
In case you’re not familiar with what it means for someone to be your person, it’s a Grey’s Anatomy reference. In one of the early seasons, Christina Yang is explaining to her boyfriend, Burke, the connection she has with Meredith, and she says, “She’s my person. If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to drag the corpse across the living room floor. She’s my person.”
Relationships like that aren’t built overnight. They are the result of blood, sweat, tears, and bad decisions. Of late nights, early mornings, and telling the truth when it’s the absolute worst thing you could possibly do. Being someone’s person is not for weaklings. It’s for warriors. It means trusting another person enough to share your secrets, your wishes, and sometimes the thoughts that bring you shame, and knowing it will never be thrown back at you in judgment or used for leverage later. They already know all those things about you because they know you better than you know yourself.
In the early days, there were the shoes. Shoes brought us together. We were known for them really. The higher the heel, the closer to heaven, and if they didn’t hurt, they were probably ugly and you were doing it wrong. Shoes turned into Mexican food dates after church. Our favorite spot was Los Arcos. We could go there and, if we ordered off of the side dish menu instead of the entree menu, get our entire lunch, drink included for under $5.00. Then, we would go to the mall and window shop. Or drive around. Or watch movies. Or she would come to my house and organize my closet because, yin and yang. She’s the organized one and I am the chaos.
She balanced out my taste in music. As a kid, I was allowed to listen to two things: Southern Gospel, or praise and worship. Then, when I was 8, Backstreet Boys was allowed. Eventually, I branched out into country music, but she was there to fill in the gaps. This gem by Wyclef Jean came to be thought of as “our song.” We, two basic white girls in a 1992 Honda Accord, would sing it at the top of our lungs on the way home from Sunday service at our pentecostal church. Years later, I made it her ring tone on my Blackberry. As I was taking my pediatric nursing final, stressed to the max, my phone rang and there was Wyclef: “Just cause she dances gogo, that don’t make her a ho no,” and I answered it to hear her yelling profanity as she got a tattoo. That sums up our differences nicely in one quick picture. This week I introduced Lexi Grey to that song, which I hadn’t heard in years, and I smiled remembering that scene and texted her that they were playing our song.
There was an unspoken rule that my house was her house. Some days I could go to work, and I would come home to find she was there, hanging out with my mom, watching Gilmore Girls or cleaning up whatever disaster I had left in my room. She came with us on one of our favorite family vacations. We went to Long Beach (AKA Oak Island). We had “snacks” on the beach which consisted of chips, sandwiches, cookies, and a French-style cheesecake. We stayed up late talking about all the bad choices I made in my dating life. And then we went to Wal-Mart with my mom.
I remember we were walking in the parking lot, probably wearing tank tops and shorts that were too short with sandals that had a heel and a half, and this man honked his horn at us as the three of us walked towards the store. I looked around naively to see what he was honking the horn at. My mom ignored him. Christina slapped her hip and yelled, “Yeah, you like that, don’t you Papaw!” To this day, it is one of my favorite Christian Yang memories.
We got married within a year of each other. She moved away for a little while but when she came back, we picked up right where we left off. We were pregnant at the same time. I made her a care package with Preparation H and Tums. She made me one with a body pillow and the Jenny McCarthy book about pregnancy. Our girls were born 6 weeks apart. They fight like we used to, and they hang out like we used to, and sometimes it makes us afraid for how they might turn out.
When one of us gets too far out of control, the other’s husband has been known to call with an SOS. One time I sat with her in a church parking lot, watching movies in the back of her car because we were hiding from going home. And another time when my sadness got to be too much, Other Half called her to pick me up and take me he didn’t care where, just bring her back happier. She knew to take me to Sephora and the Frye store and out for Sushi because she’s my person. That’s where those shoes came from, by the way. And it’s possible that, at one point, one or both of us have said to the other’s spouses, “I was here before you and I’ll be here if you’re gone, just remember that.” Most of the time we’re kidding. Sometimes. Fine, we mean it.
Sometimes I text her “Stop messing with your ears,” because she has some type of psychological condition that makes it impossible, and she flips me off. If she changes her toe nail polish from black to pink, my whole life goes to you-know-where in a handbasket. I can be having a tough week at work, or fighting with my Other Half with ridiculous frequency, and I tell her about it and she says, “I’m sorry,” and send me a picture of her baby pink toes. A few days later she goes back to black, or grey, or midnight blue and my world goes back on axis. These are the connections we share.
When I ask her a ridiculous question, I don’t get “LOL” or “How am I supposed to know.” I get a real answer. And when she tells me something I don’t want to hear, she lets me go radio-silent until I admit that she was right.
We live five miles apart, but sometimes I don’t see her for months at at a time because, life, but one day last week I asked her to come over. We ate 6 slices of pizza each, and then we went to Tony’s for a milk shake. We hid out in my newly painted office and read memes to each other, laughing until tears ran down our cheeks, until we were lulled into a carbohydrate induced coma at the late hour of 9:30 and she went home. It was probably the best night I’ve had in forever. We were both in stretchy pants and comfy shirts, and there were no high-heels in sight, but I remember thinking, “Wow, so I can still laugh.” It was the first time since my mom died that I had been able to laugh that hard.
Being someone’s person isn’t some elaborate, grand gesture. It’s a million tiny gestures. It’s taking your friend to the mall because she’s so grief-stricken she can’t sit still and she can’t read and she can’t watch a movie and she’s being mean to everyone because she refuses to admit that she needs to cry. It’s holding someone’s hand as they cry because you know that there’s nothing you can say to make it better, but the steady pressure of their hand in yours is enough. It’s late night coffee runs. It’s planning a novel in a hot pink notebook you bought at Target. It’s admitting that it sucks to be an adult but it sucks less if you have each other. Christina Yang is my person.