Two Peas in a Pod

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

On a chilly December afternoon, two girls—juniors Sally Ernst (right) and Anna Yarling (left)—sat with their legs tucked under themselves on the couch in the sunroom of Yarling’s house. As if coming straight out of a stereotypical scene of two best friends in a teen movie, the two of them, comfortably dressed, chatted with one another, giggling and laughing.

Best friends hold a special place in a person’s heart, as they have qualities that make them the “best” compared to other friends. According to Yarling, a best friend is “someone that you can always go to whenever you need help, someone you can just be yourself around (and) always be comfortable. There are no awkward silences; you don’t worry about anything.”

But how is this friendship formed in the first place? And what truly is a “best friend?”

Building a Bridge

The first meeting between two people can be the bridge.

According to Yarling, she and Ernst met when they were in middle school, and “were (kind of) friends in choir.”

Ernst said, “We both did choir from sixth through eighth grade together, but we weren’t really, like, friends. We knew each other.”

The extent of their friendship reached only so far, as they remained in an acquaintance-like state; their initial reactions to each other attested to this distance, as Yarling said she thought Ernst was “dorky in middle school.” The main problem for both of them seemed to be that they did not know how to approach each other.

Ernst said, “I thought that Anna, from a distance, was really pretty, but really quiet, and I didn’t really know how to be friends with her.”

“I think life is really lonely if you don’t have anyone to share it with. I mean you have your family. You have acquaintances and whatever, but if you don’t have someone you can just look at and just laugh (with), life is so lonely without it.”

Junior Sally Ernst

Personal Matters

The situation between the two began to change when they were in the same honors English 10 class, according to Yarling. In that setting, they were able to become closer.

Ernst said, “(We kind of) were forced to talk in English (class) since we did some projects together and stuff, and I’m like, ‘She’s really cool.’”

Though being in the same class allowed them to come into contact, Ernst said it was not enough to simply see each other every other day. Laughing, she said their friendship was “a gradual thing.” What truly sparked their friendship was a quality that went below the surface level: personality.

According to Ernst, her and Yarling’s personalities “are really compatible,” causing Yarling to add that the both of them think alike as well.

Ernst said, “We like the same things, or (at least) a lot of the same things. And you can’t be friends if you don’t like the same things, so since our interests are so similar (we can be so close).”

The two of them, according to Yarling, are academically inclined and “strange in our own way, but we get each other.” Elaborating on this, Yarling said, “If she acts weird, I don’t care.”

Ernst added, “We know how to prioritize things. I think we definitely prioritize, like school is very important—school and friends are very important—and family.”

After a pause, she said, “And if she acts weird, I don’t care either.”

 Close Encounters

In addition to having character traits that are harmonious, Yarling said hanging out with each other allows them to make up for the fact that they do not have any classes together.

“We hang out a lot. We don’t have as many classes with each other this year; we have one lunch (period). So I just make sure to visit her locker a lot even though she’s not there,” Yarling said with a laugh. “We hang out every weekend. We try to.”

During the summer, Ernst and Yarling went to a Bastille concert, which Ernst described as “really memorable and really fun.” However, she said their friendship was built upon more of the trivial occurrences in their lives.

Citing an example, Ernst said, “I guess it’s not so much about the big events. It’s more of the small events that you remember for a long time.

“Like there was this one time when we were both laughing for a long time, but then Anna started laughing so hard that she was crying, and tears were pouring down her face, but it was real crying. It wasn’t even laughing crying; it was real crying. It was so funny.”

What’s in a Friend?

For Ernst, the main criteria for having a best friend is that “you have to be you with your best friend.”

She said, “You probably have those friends who you feel like you have to be cool around. But you can’t do that with your best friend. That would be stupid. You have to be dorky; you have to be yourself, or it wouldn’t make sense.”

In that context, she demonstrated what she would do with Yarling while passing her in the hallway, making a face while pulling in her head to create a double chin.

“I’ll make weird faces at random points. I can’t do that with anyone else. Maybe like one or two other people, but not in the same way,” she said.

The (Not So) Tough Times

A relationship is rarely peaceful all the time: there are often times when two people butt heads, or personal issues crop up. For Ernst and Yarling, this remains largely untrue.

Immediately after they heard the question about having any arguments, they said almost simultaneously, “We haven’t really.”

Yarling said, “We haven’t, which is really strange, because I feel like (with) close friends it’s hard not to get into a fight. There’s nothing that we can really fight about.”

Ernst said sometimes she becomes annoyed with Yarling, but “I’ve never been in a fight (with her) before.”

For the two of them, being with each other is the best remedy.

Looking at Yarling, Ernst said, “We just talk things out a lot, which is nice. And we bring each other Starbucks. You bring me Starbucks most of the time. But I think talking is a healing thing, and we’re both good at that. We talk all the time, so that’s how (we support each other).”

Some Side Effects May Include

According to Yarling, being friends with Ernst has made her into a better person.

“I think she’s made me more comfortable with myself, like (I) don’t really care what people think anymore. It’s just easier; she’s made my life a lot better I already know that,” Yarling said. “I’m just so much happier with her.”

Ernst added with a laugh, “I feel like we’re in a (romantic) relationship. But it’s true, Anna made me a better person than before.”

The two of them both said believe they will continue to be friends for a long time, and Yarling said a good friend is “a person who can come along with you on the journey of life.”

Ernst said, “I think life is really lonely if you don’t have anyone to share it with. I mean you have your family. You have acquaintances and whatever, but if you don’t have someone you can just look at and just laugh (with), life is so lonely without it.”

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Ellen Peng