When most little girls dream about their wedding day, I think they try to imagine who the person standing across from them at the altar will be. For me, I’ve always been more concerned with who will be standing on my other side.
I don’t have any sisters. This fact never struck me as a problem growing up—I have a brother who’s great—but something about the idea of weddings really hit me. Most of my close girlfriends have a sister. When they get married, they have a default choice for the top job. This is the woman you pick to stand next to you on arguably one of the most monumental days in your life. This is the woman whom you’ve decided you trust more than anyone in the world to help you pee.
It’s not just about bathroom assistance or someone to hold your bouquet, though. In my mind, a maid-of-honor is your ride-or-die—a person who knows where all your bodies are buried, who knows about your weird Mr. Rogers sex dream or how many days in a row you’ll wear bikini bottoms when you run out of clean underwear (basically the kind of information we protect our hypothetical spouses from). When it comes down it, a maid-of-honor is your best friend, and since I wasn’t provided one by bloodline, I’d have to find her myself.
As I sat in the ceremony, everyone around me watching the bride and groom, there was one person I couldn’t take my eyes off.
So from a young age I became a best-friend romantic. I longed to be one half of a dynamic duo. I wanted to find the Ethel to my Lucy, the Thelma to my Louise, the Dionne to my Cher.
As I set off on my quest for a bestie, elementary and middle school were a tough start. The clique culture of early adolescence was one I felt particularly inept at navigating. The summer before high school I moved to a new city and finally made friends, but I was the new kid playing catch up with girls who had known each other their whole lives. As far as that one special someone, I was still looking.
So when I started my freshman year of college, I decided to take my maid-of-honor mission head-on and joined a sorority. But wanting to make more girlfriends and joining a sorority to do so is kind of like wanting to learn how to ride a bike and then signing up for the Tour de France. Despite being socially overwhelmed, the plan worked. Almost immediately I met a girl who became my friend soulmate. We did everything together. It felt like no two people had ever talked more or laughed more or collectively ordered more bad Indian food (a moment of silence for my 18-year-old body that could pregame a night with chicken tikka masala and 17 Long Island iced teas and still wake up without a hangover—she is missed).
Our freshman year my best friend and I saw each other through good times and a few dark ones. We talked about what it’d be like to be grown-up adult women, pursuing our dreams in Los Angeles one day. We talked about being roommates and knowing each other for the rest of our lives. And I was sure to raise the conversation about being each other’s maids-of-honor, of course.
Before we could plan for our roles in each other’s weddings, however, conceivably two guys would have to agree to marry us first. I used to joke that we needed to find a set of best friends, like the plot of a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, so we’d never have to stop hanging out. As much as I’d love to tell you that she and I are living with our respective partners in a four-person Passport to Paris–themed dream house right now, that’s not what happened.
She was first. Feeling good about yourself can always be hard, but it’s especially hard at 18, and my friend and I both used romantic relationships as a way to deal with our self-esteem issues. She started dating a senior who lived a couple miles off campus, and suddenly the nights spent in our dorm became fewer and farther between. By the middle of freshman year, we had basically combined all our clothes into one communal closet for the two of us. But as she started moving more and more of her stuff into his place, I woke up one morning and realized I was no longer in possession of any pants.
It’s not that I wasn’t happy for her, but as their relationship progressed, I started to feel parts of my friend’s personality disappear. She was beginning to talk like him, act like him, party like him, and I was worried about her. When we spoke, I sounded less like a best friend and more like a nagging mother. By the end of our sophomore year our friendship had become strained and distant, and then I found out she was transferring—moving back across the country to be closer to home. We’d been growing apart for a while, but now I was officially alone.
I knew it was time to start putting myself out there with girlfriends again.
Then it was my turn. After my friend left, I became withdrawn from the other women I knew in class. I resented our sorority and started feeling like the whole concept of sisterhood was tinged with insincerity. After the worst heartbreak of my life, I wasn’t ready to put myself out there. Instead, I decided I would find a boyfriend. I retreated into a romantic relationship and lost myself. My confidence was at an all-time low, and becoming an ancillary character in a man’s life felt easier than trying to star in my own for a while. I’m a person who doesn’t really like sports, but my ex was a fanatic. To give you an idea of how bad it got, by the end of this relationship, I had my own fantasy football team. Yeah...I know.
By graduation that relationship was over. I was 22, I had a good job, an apartment in L.A., and I was dating someone new, but something in my life still felt missing. The summer after college my new boyfriend brought me with him to his buddy’s wedding. As I sat in the ceremony, everyone around me watching the bride and groom, there was one person I couldn’t take my eyes off. When the bride reached the altar, she turned to her maid-of-honor to hand off the bouquet, and I saw the girls exchange a quick hand squeeze. I recognized it instantly—the way one small movement in the language of best friends was a whole conversation.
When we got home from the wedding, I knew it was time to start putting myself out there with girlfriends again. At first it felt like I’d been out of the game so long I forgot what I was doing. I was like your divorced aunt trying to reenter the dating world and asking for your help to make a Bumble. The rituals of girls’ nights out and Sunday brunch I remembered from early college felt foreign and daunting, but I forced myself to make plans. I introduced myself to girls at work and at parties. I went on group hikes, and joined a Bachelor watch party. I even went to a women’s networking event where everyone potted their own mini succulent and pretended I didn’t think it was stupid the entire time.
It didn’t always come naturally, but I was showing up and making the effort. And during this time, I was writing, and looking to my own life for inspiration. I had a weird idea one day while picturing myself on this search for female friendship, involving a bus driven by a wise old woman with a cat head. Four years ago almost to the day, the beginnings of what would become Dollface started to form.
Today I’m 26, and I still don’t know who my maid-of-honor is going to be. Let’s be honest, I don’t know if I’m ever getting married. But I do know this—because I made the effort, I’ve never had better girlfriends than I do now, and my life has never been as happy and hectic and fulfilled as it is because of them.
And as far my involvement with Dollface, writing a show about a girl reconnecting with her friends has had real-life benefits. Even though we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like, and I don’t know what role we’ll play in each other’s future weddings, the day I found out Dollface was green-lighted as a series at Hulu, it was the perfect excuse to pick up the phone and give my best friend from college a call.
Jordan Weiss is the creator and executive producer of Dollface. The series premieres on Hulu on November 15.
Originally Appeared on Glamour