My Other Reflection

What puts someone on the best friend tier? What gives them that title?
The answer is in the mirror. For the last 13 years, I have watched the same face get ready in the mirror with me. I have caught the eye of the same person as she curled her hair, blended her eye shadow and brushed her teeth. I have secretly rolled eyes with her while other fair-weather friends shave their legs in the tub or pluck their eyebrows in the other room- but the face in the mirror, it never changed.
In eighth grade, before the formal, I watched her struggle with her accidental mullet, while she watched me (with the help of several others) try to flatten the bob style haircut I had been so eager to try. In 9th grade, I caught her eye in the reflection, panicked, after I plucked one too many hairs from a friend’s eyebrow and subsequently ruined her face. In 10th grade, while lying on her bed watching her get ready through her vanity, I confessed my love of a boy. It was in that same bed, our reflections looked back at us while we watched movies on her laptop, mending our broken hearts over a different boy.
Before the term “selfie” even existed, we took them in her toothpaste splattered mirror, varying our poses, laughing at how ridiculous we looked.
In her basement mirror, we washed our faces and got ready for bed after night swims and sneaky boys made their exit, sinking into the giant mattress and being lulled to sleep by the MTV morning playlist.
When her family sold the house that our group of friends had grown up in, the mirror changed, but the faces didn’t. At her mother’s first, second and third apartment, we’ve transformed ourselves together.
We’ve gotten ready together for longer than I went to grade school. We got ready for our first night out at college together, nervously glancing at each other over untouched shot glasses. We got ready for our last night out in college together in our shared room at our house, fighting for space in the sideways looking glass.
But it’s not just the getting ready. You see each other’s reflection when you sneak to the bathroom to talk about the boys you’re with or to lend a tampon. We laugh with each other’s reflection when we sneak off to touch up our makeup and gossip about the assholes we hang out with.
…And we’ve watched each other’s reflections cry, too. We’ve exchanged pain-filled glances over boys and friends and parents and siblings. We’ve comforted other friends together, their faces buried in their hands, ours locked on each other in the glass above their turned away head, searching for a solution we couldn’t find. She’s seen me sob about a boy, struggling to fix my mascara, drunk and sad.
… And I watched the reflection of her back shudder, her head in my shoulder, surrounded by the girls she shares the best friend tier with, all of us watching each other through the mirror, crying, when we said goodbye to the man who had been a second father to all of us for most of our lives.
I have watched her face change over the years, as she has watched mine. We’ve grown shockingly more attractive and shockingly less hairy (thank you, tweezers). We have perfected our hairstyle. We have perfected our makeup routines. We have our mirror-sharing down to a science.
We may not always get along….we have gone without speaking for months at a time. But when we eventually break the silence and see each other again, it’s easy for us to fall back into the rhythm we have spent over a decade perfecting and it’s comforting, to recognize the other face in the mirror because your best friend is the other person you see looking back at you – the other reflection of you.

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