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The True Romance of Female Friendship


Every story we grew up with taught us that romantic love was the highest love there was. The only love that would endure long after we were gone, propelling us into the cosmos of human history as another constellation in the galaxy of great loves. Antony and Cleopatra, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Posh and Becks - these are the stories that we commit to paper, to memory - these are the love stories we preserve in songs and films.


It wasn’t until I stepped in as pseudo-boyfriend on my best friend’s family holiday this summer that I was forced to reflect on what higher love currently looks like to me. Observing our quiet motions and thoughtful gestures amongst three actual couples, I finally woke up to the true romance of female friendship.


That week, true romance was all around me. It looked like a pair of hands carefully rinsing out my sandy bikini and draping it over the terrace railings so that it would be dry in the morning. It tasted like a slurp from a communal beer bottle, and a morsel passed across a picnic blanket. It sounded like a quote read aloud from a book, the words full of meaning - “I read this and thought of you.” Every evening we weaved effortlessly around each other’s bathroom routines like dancers who had knowns these steps all their lives. Every night we whispered secrets into the dark scented air before falling asleep amongst each other’s dreams.


Nurturing a best girl friendship is a quiet, noble, unshowy love. I know her rhythms, her seasons - I have studied the typography of her face and walked through the great landscapes of her mind like a garden that I never want to leave. The distance between us in the back seat of our dusty holiday rental contained a precious history, an intricate tapestry of memories that are always with us. Every shame, every victory, every stumble and leap towards the lives we want is stored somewhere in the DNA of this relationship. Every gesture and touch lets the other know that they are found, and they will never be lost again. This female friendship has been the great love of my teens and early 20s - even when my modest sky is one day filled with the light of other kinds of love, she always be there - my majestic moon, my best girl.


Written by Jess Bird, illustrated by Emma Inge

Cover illustration by Christopher Bragg

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UK