Last Friday, my fross and I were discussing the mastery and magnificence of the TV show Friends. The conversation began after agreeing that we both couldn’t hear the word “pivot” without thinking of the scene when Ross, Rachel, and Chandler are attempting to guide Ross’ new couch up a set of stairs. I found the clip on YouTube tonight. Just so funny. Comedy doesn’t get simpler then a man yelling “Pivot, Pivot, PIVOT!” and his friend shouting back, “Shut up! Shut up! Shuttt Up!” And yet I can laugh even thinking about it.
I would argue that the chemistry of the cast on Friends remains unbeaten. The show started its run in 1994, when I was 12 years old and entering junior high. A year after I graduated college, the show ended. I based so much of how I wanted my post-college life to be off the lives of the characters. Sad to say I know, but those were my formative years, and I liked believing that life after college could be fabulous apartments in a big city with my five closest friends in the room next door or the apartment across the hall.
The funny thing is I did have that life, twice before the show ended. My last year of college, I lived with one of my best friends, and our five guy friends lived in the apartment in a building attached to ours. We had no Central Perk, but we had the boys’ living room, which was good enough. And we spent all of our time together.
I had that life again in Santa Monica, where I lived with two of those same boys, and another best friend from college. And Central Perk became our living room, but instead of coffee we drank beer and played cards. We struggled with the transition from school to work, but we didn’t really struggle, because we came home to each other, and lived in one of the most fabulous neighborhoods in all of LA.
But life couldn’t stay that way. And now I can’t go back to it. I left LA, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing there.
What I couldn’t comprehend, on the day I drove away, is that I was leaving my Friends days behind me, almost exactly a year after the show ended.
I loved graduate school. I loved caring about what I was learning and having real conversations with my professors who respected me. I fell in love with my closest friend and spent over three wonderful years as his girlfriend. I have a great job now, and I’m on a career track I’m proud of.
But none of that means I don’t often long for the days when I had three or more of my closest friends to come home to. I never spent a weekend alone, or a day alone. Now I have to spend a lot of time alone. And I’m not very good at it.
Here’s the thing though. If I had stayed in LA, or if all of my college friends had followed me to DC, I wouldn’t have had a three-year relationship with a great guy. I wouldn’t have learned that sometimes I have to be alone. And I wouldn’t have grown up. Because it doesn’t work like the TV show. We didn’t pair off and get married. And we couldn’t all do what we were passionate about in the same place.
I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve had a lot of “best days of my life.” Some were with my “Friends” and others were with my boyfriend. And I’m sure there will remain quite a few from each when the total number of best days is tallied up.
I thought it was ironic that what sparked this blog post was the word “pivot.”
Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say about it.
Main Entry: piv·ot
1 : a shaft or pin on which something turns
2 a : a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect b : a key player or position; specifically : an offensive position of a basketball player standing usually with back to the basket to relay passes, shoot, or provide a screen for teammates
3 : the action of pivoting; especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor
I think my friends are the foot on the floor. They remain, despite their distance, the pin that holds me steady as the other foot turns from man to man and from job to job and from place to place.