Syracuse University Magazine

What a Best Friend Can Teach You About Love, Life, and Success


By Heather Wood Rudúlph

Romantic interests come and go, but friends are forever—at least the ones who count are. I met Jennifer on a blind date of sorts. It was 2002, and I had just moved to New York City from Los Angeles with that whole “If I can make it there…” starry-eyed dream. After graduating from the Newhouse School, I landed a job as an entertainment editor for a local newspaper in Southern California (a dream job for anyone not blinded by her ambitions). I wanted to be a magazine writer in New York City, drink cosmopolitans, and date cute intellectuals who respected my space. Yes, I watched Sex and the City.

I wanted this fantasy so much that I quit my job and moved sight unseen 3,000 miles away to a one-and-a-half room beautiful catastrophe of a studio apartment above the brightest chili pepper lights in Little India. My bathtub was in my kitchen, which was also in my bedroom, and the stove didn’t work. But I had my own apartment in Manhattan. My dream was already coming true!

But I knew almost no one with whom to sip cosmopolitans. Jennifer and I had a friend in common and she agreed to meet with me. We went to a movie screening (no pressure to talk) and went for coffee after. Turns out we had some things to say. Several hours and way too many lattes later, I learned we both wanted to run a women’s magazine one day, but didn’t like the state of them then (too much redundant sex advice, too little recognition of real women’s lives); we’d both been dating the same guys for more than a decade and were having doubts; we were big sisters, vegetarians, and lovers of ’70s sitcoms and teen pop music, unironically.

Over the next two years, my pullout sofa bed in the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom apartment became a place for career brainstorming, deep talks, and shared plates of hangover nachos. We saw each other through the hardest times in our lives so far—broken engagements (hers), career tailspins (mine), and identity crises (both of ours). This is how best friends are made. It’s not about friendship bracelets or proximity of houses in a cul-de-sac. It’s finding someone with whom you share so much, and can share everything.

Jennifer and I turned our common career vision into a business venture. We launched a web magazine (, co-wrote a book (Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success, and Style), and continue to collaborate on projects together, while also maintaining successful solo careers. We also call each other first when either of us has a health scare, needs a shoulder to cry on, or just wants to bitch about the unnecessarily gratuitous nature of the latest Katy Perry video (I mean, really, Katy Perry).

We’ve now both found our romantic soul mates. I moved the 3,000 miles back to California and am married with a kid. Jennifer is living with the love of her life in a Manhattan apartment whose bathroom has its own walls. We’d achingly miss each other if not for the fact that we communicate almost every day. We e-mail about work. We text about a ridiculous TV plot (What’s up with Rizzoli and Isles anyway?), and we call when we need each other most.

When given the choice of who to love, we often find those who resemble us. In a sense, finding a great best friend as an adult is a way we can learn to love better and to better love ourselves.

Heather Wood Rudúlph ’99, a Newhouse School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism, is a writer, editor, adjunct professor of journalism, and the co-author of Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success, and Style (Mariner). She lives in Sacramento, California, with her family.