How A Lifetime Of Loving My Best Friend Resulted In Two Happy Soulmates Living Together

Our relationship went deeper than physical, it was a whole new level.

Last updated on Apr 11, 2024

sculpture Wilhelm Gunkel via Unsplash / Bianca Marie Arreola and margiartho via Canva

In 1978, I stood on the ledge of a balcony with a bright flashlight pointed at me, above an audience of unwitting movie-goers who'd come to see the midnight flick, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was just something fun to do, though word had gotten around that the fun was starting to take shape as crazy young people running around in their underwear. There was no cult, no fandom, only a few New Yorkers —  all strangers to each other — all in love with the night and all things slinky, kinky, and dark. And there I was, slinky, kinky, and dark, dressed to the nines, hovering above them all, ready to give them the show of their lives, ready to kickstart the concept of cosplay and make it a reality for decades to come. 


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There was a woman down in the orchestra seating who looked up at me. She said to the person next to her, "I don't know if that's a man or a woman, but I'm in love." At the time, I didn't know if I was a man or a woman, either but one look at the woman down there, wearing a black shirt with pink embroidered hands placed on it to look as if they were cupping her breasts, I, too, knew I was in love. She was extraordinary; I'd never seen anyone who looked like her before — and she had such nerve! The way she carried herself, the way she seemed to move with this arrogance and confidence— wow! I may have been an exhibitionist, but I was certainly a shy one, even an introverted one to say the least.


She was 100% confident and sultry attitude. I remember looking at that woman, knowing she had to be in my life — I needed her nerve, her chutzpah. And even though I was up there in my most minimal skivvies, flaunting my gender-fluid body for all to see, she was far more brave than I, and I was drawn to her like a moth to a flame. When we were introduced, it was instant: this was love. It was romantic, eternal, profound, and creative. We raced so hard into a new form of friendship, something we now call "Bub." She's my Bub, and I am her Bub. We are Bub.

Was our friendship intimate? Yes, but not physically so. We used our minds to transcend the body as we instantly recognized that we'd found something so superior to that regular status of 'friend' or even 'lover.' We were lovers, yes, but not the way humans regard the term; we were lovers in the way that only women can allow themselves to be: Above intimacy. All mind. All ecstatic, mental-relating ... and our love was inspiring, and it made us creative. Our love could take us places no human being could go, and that is where we lived — in the stratosphere of this uniquely odd, extraordinarily loving friendship.

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We were very young adults at the time, I was 18, she was 21, and we hadn't quite accepted what was expected of us, or what lay ahead. We grew up thinking we would eventually get married — to men, have kids, the whole nine. And we did. We were both 'romantic asexuals' at the time, which hadn't been a thing anyone talked about — in those days, you were either straight or gay, and we were neither. We were fun-loving, attractive asexuals out for a good time as only we knew how to have. In other words, we found each other.

As friendships go, they fade ... but some fade back. We'd spent many years away from each other, which only created a void in our lives; one that we'd try to fill with other friends — replacement Bub. Knowledge: there is no replacement Bub, there is only Bub. We kept in contact through all of it: divorce, cancer, poverty, ups, and downs, always knowing that no matter where we journeyed, the real deal love would always and only be found in the Bubdom.

We gravitated back into each other's orbit when fate had me move to Florida, only a few miles from where she lived. By the time we got back together, we had accumulated much wisdom and many, many realizations. Life presented us with choices, and many of them were the wrong ones — at some point, we both began to understand that while we had to separate and live our lives out according to what was expected of us as women, we both simultaneously discovered that living out that expectation was a lie and a waste of time.

No regrets, however. We learned essential lessons, and I, in that time away from her, was able to bring a child into the world — someone whom I regard as the greatest thing I was ever able to be a part of creating. As an adventurer, I needed to escape Florida — I moved to Oregon for a chance at a new life. My Bub would continue to live in her house in Florida, and we'd meet up again someday but we'd speak every day on the phone, faithfully. Unfortunately, Oregon life was not good for me. West Coast life was not good for me and despite how hard I tried to make it work, I knew I had to leave. But where to go? My money had dried up.


I was depressed and sinking fast into the Pacific Northwest's dark, wet climate. I was looking at homelessness. I was looking at shelters, starvation, hopelessness. And then, 2020 hit, and with it came Covid-19. The Bub asked me to move back and live with her, saying there was always a room for me at her home, which she owned and was in no threat of losing. I hadn't thought about it before — my Sagittarius nature was one bent on freedom and independence; I only ever wanted to be a free bird, and could never think of myself as someone who could live with a friend, roommate, or partner.

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But it was the Bub, and there she was, saving my life. And so, I raised enough money to move across the country, packed up my cat, Lucifer, and landed in South Florida, like a fallen angel. I walked in and felt instantly at home. My need for independence was fulfilled; I created a beautiful, artful apartment on my side of the house — my privacy and eccentricity were re-established, and all of my 'fear of roommates' dissolved. I now live with my best friend in the world, and she and I will live together until the day one of us dies — that's a result of loving my best friend. I get texts from her, while she languishes in her bed. "Are you ready to meet at Alejandro's?" Alejandro's is the name of our kitchen, where we've decorated it to look like a cafe set in the 50s.

We meet for coffee every morning, then she goes to her job as a funeral director and I do my writing at my home office. When she returns, we sit for dinner and if she wants, I make her delicious meals. In the evenings, we sit together and binge-watch TV shows and movies. At the end of each night, before we retire to our rooms (I call my room, 'my spaceship') we hug each other and slowly dance. Sometimes, most times, we sing. We're like the Whos from Whoville. Sometimes she hears me laughing hysterically in my spaceship and sometimes I hear her shouting at one or all of our seven animal children. We call them our Tuppies. And our home, we call Tuppington Castle.


I always wondered why friends could not marry. Was this kind of union and its benefits only available to those who could show on paper that they were being intimate as if that could be the only possible way to prove love and union? If Bub and I were to get married, we'd have to pretend we're gay, which wouldn't be bad at all ... though it would not even slightly come near what she and I have found as Bub. If you're fortunate enough to have a best friend who exalts your entire experience of life on this planet, live with them. Forget what's expected of you. Forget what you think others are saying. Forget the idea that true love only comes in intimate unions — it doesn't.

Intimacy is a great human experience — if your body and mind tell you it's something you want, or need. But it's not the only speedway to love. Love is the best friendship. Love is living with your best friend, in trust, in security. No jealousy, no ownership, no distrust. Just love. Bub is love. I'm going out now to buy goods to make the Bub a soup she'll adore. Hang on, she's texting me — ah, she's sent me a photo of a cat and a note telling me she loves me. We don't ask for much, but we do know life is short and if we're going to live it out, we might as well live it out together. I love you, too, Bub.

All photos courtesy of the author


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Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an essayist and a journalist, she can be read in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, YourTango, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, More Magazine, XOJane, MyDaily, and The Stir.