I met my best friend when I was three and half years old. She was two, and her name was Pia. She was petite with big brown eyes and super-long lashes. She was quite dainty and loved pink. She wore her hair in bush balls or ponytails and was always so pretty. We did everything together: played, laughed, argued and made up. Every time we saw each other, we hugged for at least five minutes. We loved each other even though we were too young to understand the definition of the word.
We lived four doors apart until my parents divorced when I was almost six and I moved a few miles away. Our parents made sure we still saw each other regularly, which was at least four or five times a week. We always went to different schools, but that never mattered. We were still best friends. Playdates and sleepovers were mandatory. We promised to grow up and live together. She wanted a house made of stone, and I wanted to live in a glass house, so we decided that we would build a house that was half-glass and half-stone.
We learned to jump double-dutch, ride bikes, roller skate, and a million other things together. When I went to my grandmother's house in Georgia for summer breaks, we wrote letters and we talked once every two weeks for three minutes (long distance was expensive then). We'd yell into the phone, "I miss you! When are you coming back?" After enduring summers apart and childhood challenges like bedtime and homework, we eventually became teenagers.
We went to house parties, school dances, and go-gos. Pick-up and drop-off times were carefully orchestrated by our parents. We got haircuts and wore fly sweat suits. We both loved music, especially Prince. We decided we could share him. We discovered boys who weren't rock stars and had our first crushes. Eventually that led to our first heartbreaks. We were there for each other through it all. We were so close we came up with a name for each other. The title best friend wasn't enough, so we called each other "WE." "I'm a her, she's a me, we're a WE." And so it was.
We had other friends. Other best friends, even, but not another WE. And everyone knew it. Our circles blended effortlessly. My memory Rolodex with Pia is too extensive for an article, but highlights include our first Prince concert, a love of beer before we were old enough to drink, late-night phone calls, helping each other get dressed before prom, sneaking out at night, picking each other up when we first got our licenses, high-school graduations, college graduations, the death of my father and the death of hers. Laughter and tears are etched on our beautiful tapestry of friendship. I cried when she walked down the aisle at her wedding. I was her maid of honor. My beautiful WE was getting married! I taught her how to tie her shoes, and we taught each other what friendship and sisterhood meant. And then the next chapter of life was here.
We always knew that distance, new friends, work, husbands, tragedies, and triumphs could never trump the certainty of our bond. A bond formed in Spirit that knows no time and no end. I learned about myself because of Pia, even though we were completely different. Pia was very neat, always coordinated. Her hair was always styled to perfection. I was disheveled and more of a tomboy. We were both fearless, full of confidence.
She doesn't simply know my history. She's a part of it. A part of my evolution.
Maybe that's what made us so perfect, the fact that we allowed each other to be exactly who we were. She doesn't simply know my history. She's a part of it. A part of my evolution. We talked through everything: relationships, health, family, finances, and God. We reminded each other of what we believed in, spiritually and morally. Most important, we reminded each other to laugh through it all.
Pia's theme song was "I Will Survive," and we always did. I learned through our friendship how important it is to have amazing women in your life. I learned that friendships are safe havens, refuge when life and family get overwhelming. I learned that girl power is electric. I learned that it was important to share your friends and vice versa. I learned that God was good and that a friend was like a lifeline of sorts. Maybe even a lifesaver.
We're women now. Pia works in education. She's still funny and adventurous. She's still a hypochondriac (and I'm still emetophobic). She still cares about the world. Her heart is big and she still has a deep desire to make a difference. She's still married and is now a mother of two. Our lives are more hectic now. Our worlds different. Our friend circle has expanded. Gratefully, God has continued to bless me with amazing women who constantly nourish my soul. Women who make me a better woman and make me want to be a better human being. Women who hold me up when I'm weak.
Women who celebrate my successes. Women who lift me up when I feel insecure. Women who remind me of what really matters: love, in all its glorious forms. Love of God. Love of self. Love of others.
That love helped me survive some of the toughest times of life: my father's passing, my mother's stroke, a devastating breakup, my dog's health crisis, career disappointments. All without judgment, but with enduring patience and absolute permission to be still and search for God. Again.
The highest purpose of life and existence is love: both its expression and its receipt. It is the eternal force that creates and sustains all things. The force that enlightens and reveals our connection to Spirit. One of its many beautiful manifestations is friendship. Life is complicated and adulthood is scary, but girl power is magical. A reminder that love is all around and that all is well.
Although distance and time may change things, nothing can break the bond of sisterhood. I know this because I spoke to Pia this morning. We laughed. We reminisced. We decided to plan a trip to Costa Rica. We never did build that house of glass and stone together, but it turns out we didn't need it. We give each other all the shelter we need.
Regina Hall is the star of Girls Trip, which will be released in theaters nationwide on July 21.