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Loving and Losing My Soulmate Taught Me the Power of Latina Friendships

Angelica, Jennifer, and I have a friendship that writers create fictional films, shows, and books about — except, we’re three Puerto Rican girls from East Orlando, so it’s a story you haven’t actually seen and a bond that’s way deeper and doper than what’s been made for audiences.
We grew up together. At school, we were known as Glam Squad and even had purple and silver shirts to rep our friendship. At McDonald’s, our first job, we were the trio that regulars knew by name. When we weren’t studying or taking fast-food orders, we were at the mall, buying the latest pair of Air Jordans and sporting them at Daddy Yankee and Paramore concerts. When we graduated high school, our families celebrated together. 
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After graduation, I moved to New York for college and Jenn relocated to Massachusetts to start her career, while Ang stayed in Orlando. I left her a photo book of our friendship and a bracelet that the three of us promised to mail to each other every month with a letter, à la The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. We cried to the tune of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” and had our first few seasons without each other for the first time since middle school. Of course, it didn’t take too long for Jenn and Ang to join me in the Big Apple. 
That’s the thing about us: We’re soulmates, and our spirits aren’t well when we are apart for too long. 
Throughout our adult years, we called each other life partners — and we are, in every way. We moved back home to Orlando together, became roommates, traveled the world side by side, picked each other up from bad dates, and danced our heartbreak away to the latest Bad Bunny chart-topper. We started a nonprofit, got pregnant at the same time (unplanned), became moms together, and supported each other through home purchases. We spent nearly every day juntas, singing Taylor Swift’s entire discography on weekend road trips, consoling one another during walks at Blanchard Park, or simply lounging at that special house on Rouse because just sharing space, in silence or giggles, was what we needed to feel happy, free, and at home.
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"That’s the thing about soulmates: We are forever tied, in any form, and in every life."

Raquel reichard
Jenn and I haven’t felt this way since January 2, 2022, the day our better third passed away. Exactly one week after finding out she had stage 4 small-cell lung cancer, Ang the great — the new mom to a precious one-year-old and leader of our gang — breathed her last breath. In that moment, I held her hand, Jenn caressed her hair, her sister, Anne, squeezed her shoulder, and her mom clasped onto her feet. We know that Ang waited until each of us was in that room, promising to care for her baby girl, before she let go. She didn’t say it; she couldn’t. But it was expressed through her last tear, a farewell to the women she loved most. 
I do not know who I am without my best friend. I feel lost, deserted, and empty, yet I still want to honor her and the sisterhood that we continue to share. That’s the thing about soulmates: We are forever tied, in any form, and in every life. I talk and laugh with Ang daily. I cry and curse in anger, too. In these moments, I feel her comfort me. Just yesterday, while bellowing in the shower, asking why we never got the forever we talked about, the ever-after we planned, a song came on my Apple Music that I wasn’t familiar with, and it said, “no matter what, you’ve got my love to lean on, darling. We’ll be the best of friends forever.” Thank you, sis.
To me, friendship is among the most special relationships, and it must be celebrated. It’s the only love affair I know that gives and takes in equal measure, that sees fully and respects wholly, and that grows together in harmony. I feel blessed that I get to experience the unbreakable sisterhood that Ang, Jenn, and I share and am grateful that, in this life, we honored our relationship often. Since we were teenagers, we called each other sisters, life partners, and soulmates, aware of the divinity in our union. 
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To continue to honor the magical ties of friendship, I asked some of the BFFs whose relationships I have admired from afar to talk about their great love affair. Heads-up: Tears were shed in every interview.

Janel, 33, and Francis, 33

Honduran and Dominican — New York
How did you meet?
F: The first day of freshman year at Syracuse University. We lived in the same dorm room and were right across the hall from each other. During a floor meeting, Janel walked in with her roommate, two girls from the Bronx pulling up like they owned the pace. Immediately I was like, “oh no, who do these girls think they are?” *laughs*
J: Then, during another meeting, I spotted Francis and was like, “hey, I think we live on the same floor.” I asked her if she wanted to walk back with me, and she said yes. What she didn’t know was that I had to make a stop at a hotel to see my parents, so she ended up meeting my family the first time we hung out. Honestly, I just felt comfortable and safe with her. We were the only two Black Latinas on that floor. At that time, I hadn’t seen that many girls who looked like me on campus yet.
F: When we actually had a conversation, there was a warmth. I realized that I was being judgmental the first time I saw her and that my guard was up because I was in a new environment. But in my head, I was like, “I think she’s kind of dope.”
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When was the moment that you realized “this is my bestie?”
J: From that point on, we have been best friends. We were literally together every single day, ate together, talked about assignments and identity together, and even lived together. We are a group of four. We all met that first day and have been besties ever since. 
F: There was this situation during freshman year. I don’t remember if I was sick or if I was drunk, but I do know that I was in the bathroom throwing up. Janel came in, asked if I was okay, and when I said that I wasn’t, she stayed and made sure I was safe, eventually walking me back to my room. In my head that day, I was like, “wow, this girl is really down for me, and I appreciate her. I think she is going to be my best friend.” I never told her that. 
Name a time that your bestie showed up for you in a really big way.
F: There have been so many times, but the most recent time was when I got married last year. Janel was my maid of honor. I knew I wanted her to be my maid of honor, but I didn’t know if she'd say yes or no. She isn’t much of a planner; that’s usually my role. One day, we were running the New York Marathon — it was the same group from college; we’re all still close — and we had lost each other. With my legs burning, I found Janel through a tracker and ran as fast as I could to get to her. She was not doing well. We were on the Brooklyn Bridge, limping and gasping for air. We were so happy and relieved to see each other, and while it was a weird time, I just blurted out, “will you be my maid of honor,” and she said yes. We were struggling physically, but it was still a beautiful moment. And she was the best maid of honor. 
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J: I was just extremely honored. Francis means a lot to a lot of people in her life, and she could have picked anyone. A lot of people have close relationships with her. She’s such an amazing person and has a lot of amazing friends. I was so grateful that she chose me. I had to have a conversation with myself, like, “Janel, you better bring your fuckin A-game.” Like she said, I’m not the planner, but I had to show up for the person who has always shown up for me and for so many others. 
Why is this your person?
J: Outside of my family, I didn’t have many relationships with other Black Latinas growing up, so this was very refreshing for me. We could talk about, and make sense of, our intersectional identities, work through so much of what we had experienced, and dream up a space like Ain't I Latina?, the platform I founded in 2013 inspired by conversations we had been having throughout college about Blackness and Latinidad. 
The truth is that Francis and I are sisters. We’re literally sorority and line sisters, but I truly feel like I discovered sisterhood and true friendship through her. With her, I’m able to share my innermost thoughts. She’s so smart and non-judgmental. Her spirit is so authentic. She is so supportive and trustworthy. I know that I had a life before Francis, but when I think of my most memorable life experiences, I can’t think of them without her.  She is my best friend, my ride-or-die, my voice of reason, my sister, and my soulmate. This connection is spiritually aligned. 
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F: I feel the exact same way. Being friends has always been easy. We don’t argue or fight, even when we disagree. We understand each other and respect each other. We have a soul connection. She’s my sister, and I look up to her and just love her so much.

Kat, 32, and Connie, 31

Colombian-Peruvian and Peruvian — New York
How did you meet?
C: It was June 18, 2015, my birthday. My friend invited me to join her at a party and told me that we would be linking up with another one of her friends, Kat. When Kat and I met, it felt like love at first sight. We started talking and realized we had so much in common. We were both Peruvian geminis from Queens who worked in production. Also, while we didn’t know it then, we were both questioning our sexuality — a journey we would later experience together.
When was the moment that you realized “this is my bestie?”
K: It was during my breakup. At this point, we had just started becoming friends; we had literally just met each other. My husband and I had decided to get a divorce, and I had a family cruise trip that we were supposed to go on together. I remember being on the phone with my ex and telling him he was no longer coming with us and that he needed to change the name on the reservation. When he asked who he should change the name to, I looked up at Connie, who was there, and said, “do you have a passport?” She literally pulled her passport out of her purse, and I yelled to my ex: “Change it to Connie Chavez.” That’s when our friendship shifted from acquaintances to besties.
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What’s something that you’ve only done or will only do with your bestie?
Connie: Kat and I were both questioning our sexuality and came out as bisexual at the same time. I don’t think I could have been as vulnerable in my queerness with anyone else. We were figuring things out together, and I never had to fear that I was saying the wrong things or that I would be canceled. Neither of us had the words or the answers, but we reflected on it together. That’s so special to me, to navigate through the messines of understanding your queerness and living your queerness with someone, platonically.
Why is this your person?
C: Where do I begin? We’re a trio: me, Kat, and the friend who introduced us. There is so much that both of these women have given me. They know things that I haven’t told anyone. They’ve seen me at my worst and have still given me so much love. They’ve nurtured me. They’ve given me language for how I feel. They’ve taught me how to work through and express my emotions, my love. They’ve helped me own my politics. They’ve shaped my career. I’ve never had a friendship so intentional. There are no words. I’m just so grateful.
K: What is beautiful about our relationship is our ability to accept change. We are not the same people that we were when we first met one another, but we accept each other wholly during every step and version. I think that this sisterhood has given me a sense of security that I haven't found in other relationships. In my lowest moments, I haven’t questioned each of their commitment to me or to us. There is always a sense of knowing that I can always come back and be grounded with them. I feel like they have continuously affirmed me, directly and indirectly, and that their growth as individuals has also inspired, motivated, and taught me. They’ve encouraged and celebrated me, and I think that has been really hard for me to find in previous friendships and romantic relationships.
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I’m nomonagnous, and I think that this friendship helped me understand and believe in nonmonogamy even more. To me, they are my primary partners. I don't want to change them. I love them for who they are, and I always know that I can come back to them. They are my primaries. 

Dhayana, 26, and Angie, 27

Dominican and Puerto Rican — Florida and Pennsylvania
How did you meet?
D: I moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 2009 when I was 13 years old. We were in Harrisburg, PA, and I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t speak any English. It was my freshman year, and everyone in my high school had their friends from middle school except for me. During my orientation, my ESL teacher told me that I’d have a buddy who would help me acclimate. All I knew was that her name was Angie. During my first class on my first day of school, I sat behind someone and asked her what her name was; it was Angie. I knew instantly that she was the girl who was tasked to help me. She ended up being in every single one of my classes so that she could help me with translations. I honestly felt so bad for her; it was like she was stuck with me because I had no clue what was going on. But it ended up being great. 
When was the moment that you realized “this is my bestie?”
A: It just took a few weeks. We were always together. We spent eight hours together in school and then we started hanging out outside of school. We started sleeping over each other’s houses, sharing and matching clothes, and going to Hersheypark together. She was my go-to for everything. I knew very quickly that this loca is my loca. 
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Name a time when your bestie showed up for you in a really big way.
A: I think the biggest one Dhayana would say is my helping her learn English and get acclimated to life here. I understood what she was going through because I had also recently moved from Puerto Rico and knew how hard it was. But what she gave me was just as big and important. She gave me friendship. For so long, she was the only person I could talk to and the only person I felt was there for me. Dhayana helped me just as much as I helped her, just in different ways. Till this day, she gives me the best advice and she embraces me during heartbreak. It's a wonderful friendship and sisterhood.
How has your friendship changed over the years? 
D: I don’t think it has changed, but I do think it has grown. After high school, I joined the military and moved to Georgia, Japan, and then Florida. We actually haven’t seen each other since. But our relationship is exactly the same. It doesn’t feel like a long-distance relationship that you have to work on to make work. We make it work naturally. We have never, ever gotten into a fight. We understand each other and support each other. She is a working mom with a significant other. I’m a wife who is writing a book. But when we are on the phone together, we become teenagers again, laughing at all the same things and wanting to run around Hersheypark together. 
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A: We will actually be seeing each other for the first time in 10 years next week, and we plan to go to Hersheypark. 
D: That’s what I love: it’s always the same with us. And Angie isn’t a jealous friend. In Japan, I met Anna, who has also become my best friend. She is raw, non-judgmental, and accountable. I never thought I could relate to someone else like that, but I have. And I think that’s beautiful, to have multiple best friends and know that there’s no competition, ever, because we love, trust, and honor each other.

Diosa, 28, and Mala, 30

Peruvian-Mexican and Mexican — Los Angeles
How did you meet?
D: Our friendship started online. We had been following each other on Instagram before the app was what we know today. At that time, DMs didn’t exist, so we just commented on each other’s photos. Then in 2016, Latina Rebels and Chingona Fire hosted a meet-up in Los Angeles, and I knew I had to be there. There was this bubbling digital community online of Latina feminists, and I just wanted to meet these people. I went by myself, which is not something I do, and as I’m walking to the venue, Mala says, “Oh my God, it’s DiosaFemme,” (my Instagram handle) and that was literally it.
How did your friendship blossom into what it is today?
D: At first, we were just friends that partied together. We were exploring and enjoying the city. But I obviously always thought that Mala was super smart, funny, beautiful, and just someone I wanted to be around and grow with. When I had the idea for a podcast, she was the only person I reached out to. I just texted her, “hey, do you want to start a podcast?” I didn’t give her any details. Still, she was like, “yeah.” It has really been through our podcast, Locatora Radio, that our friendship has grown and has become a sisterhood. I mean, things could have gone really badly. We started a business together without a contract. We were operating on trust. 
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When was the moment that you realized “this is my bestie?”
M: We've honestly gone through so much together. While we started as party friends, when the party phase was over, we still had each other. We’ve built a business and a brand together, we’ve traveled and done gigs together, and we’ve gone through relationships together. We are really partners. Our work pays our bills. We have a joint bank account and own our trademark, 50/50. We’ve gone through these experiences with love and trust. There isn’t a day that we don’t talk. The art has fueled our friendship. Financially, things are hard, but the art and project we have built have helped sustain us.
Why is this your person?
D: I don’t have sisters, but I see Mala as a sister and a partner. She has fueled me in all the creative ways. I can get stuck in my own head and sit on something for too long, but Mala makes sure that I get it out. She makes me a better creative and person. She pushes me and sees my strengths before I can, even if I resist it. 
Mala: We have different personalities and energy. I don't think there is anyone else who I could work with who brings out the softness in me like Diosa does. I’ve learned how to share the mic. Just the way she is, her very femme strength, has taught me how to chill. I’ve never had a romantic relationship that resulted in me being better, feeling better, and doing better. The only people who have fulfilled me more are my parents.
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D: This is technically my longest relationship. 
M: Same.
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