I've never been one of the boys. At least not the burping, swearing, NBA-talking, football playing kind. I’ve been called dainty a couple of times. Sensitive on more than one occasion. Gentle a bit too often.
But here's to the boys who’ve showed me that although I will never be one of the boys, I can learn to understand them, and be understood in return. That the love that exists between a guy and girl doesn't always have to be romantic.
Here's to my first—and probably only—guy friend growing up, my older brother. Together we constructed pillow forts and built orphanages for our stuffed animals, and at night I'd lie in the bottom bunk and listen to him making the kind of battle sounds you'd hear in a video game ("Pshew! Pshew! Pshew!"), winning imaginary wars from his perch above.
Here’s to the boys in the huge, crazy, chaotic co-ed barkada I somehow stumbled into in high school, the ones who taught me that even if someone annoys you to no end (all the mean nicknames and bra-snapping and stupid dares), he can still have your back when it counts. Here's to the boys I drank my first beer with, got into trouble in school with, shared secrets with, endured my first love and heartbreak with, and ultimately came of age with.
Here's to the guy friends I met in college, the ones I still consider my best friends: C, one of the kindest, strongest, most loyal people I know, whom I've looked up to since the day we met; and E, who has taught me that acceptance, humor, and a good sense of style always go a long way. I'm a completely different person now, more sure of myself and secure in my skin, but it's comforting to know that someone was there when I wasn't.
They say it's never too late to make new friends. So here's to the guy friends I met later on in life, when I'd already had my sh*t together. When you're no longer spending every waking moment trying to define who you are as a person, friendships tend to be easier. Lighter. Which doesn't mean they matter any less. Here's to the guy friends I'll probably grow old with, the ones I’ll experience adulting milestones like weddings, career changes, and babies with. Here's to the guy friends who just get it.
And here's to one special guy friend, my favorite of them all: the boy (space) friend who's fortunately also my boy (no space) friend. Sooner or later you figure out what you want in a friend: someone who listens to you, believes in you, supports you, is honest with you, trusts you, makes you laugh, and makes you feel brave.
And if you find that person and he happens to be in love with you? Then that's one of the best bonuses life can throw your way.
These days, the only battle sounds are the occasional gut-wrenching (though necessary) fights, and the annoyances have evolved from mean nicknames to...actually, there are still mean nicknames. High school and college and coming of age are all far behind me, tucked away in a safe place, and so are my first love and heartbreak. But there is still a lot of learning. Still a lot of beer drinking (but responsibly, and only on weekends!), still a lot of laughter. In a relationship, the lines between friendship and romance tend to blur, and sometimes you just have to let them. Allow them to run over each other so that you can be each other's constant companion and biggest fan and number one crush and source of inspiration and best friend, all rolled into one. It might mean you'd have to endure the smell of farts and dirty socks—but I promise you it's worth it.
I've never been one of the boys. But here's to the one boy who's made me realize that I don't have to be in order to be loved. All I need to be is myself.