It’s a fascinating topic and since relationships are central to my stories, one in which I have a deep interest.
What draws us to one person over another? Why do some relationships flourish and some flounder no matter how hard you try? And why do we often cling to relationships that we know are unhealthy, even toxic, to us?
I am a self-confessed introvert. Making friends is always a challenge for me, and I find myself drawn to friendships that are more about connection and less about letting loose. I often have a ‘light bulb’ moment where I simply know that this person is part of my clan.
The moment can take me by surprise. My longest friendship (more than thirty years!) was forged during our freshman year at Penn State. On the surface, we probably looked like a mismatch. Ali dressed like a rocker chick and had the biggest hair on the planet; I had a pixie cut and no style at all. But at some point during orientation, we just clicked. We discovered that we both loved hot tea and Bryan Adams, and we complemented each other. I went home a month later with longer, highlighted hair, and an extra piercing in my ear. When she came down with mononucleosis at the end of the semester, I kept her company. I still fall into a fit of the giggles when I think about her breaking the thermometer on her ring, and the two of us chasing balls of mercury around the room.
Thirty years later, we are still friends. We don’t talk often enough, but it never seems to matter. When we do get together, we naturally pick up right where we left off, without missing a beat. Love you, Ali!
Connection sometimes finds you in other ways, too. When I started writing, I connected with a lovely community of women online. It was a lively, funny, uplifting community and I’m sad that most of those relationships have drifted away. I miss the long hours we spent chatting via instant message all those years ago.
Two of them have endured, in spite of distance (one of them is literally halfway around the world), in spite of months between emails, in spite of never having met face-to-face. When we chat, we cover everything from our personal lives, to American politics, to the latest silly animal video (often in one conversation). It doesn’t matter that we’re in different time zones or on different continents. These friendships are lovely and deep.
Next month, the three of us will finally be together, our first in-person meeting since meeting online sixteen years ago. As much as I try to imagine the emotion of that moment, I know that I am dramatically underestimating its power. Sandra and Nicole, this is going to be epic!
I love realizing that I’ve connected with someone new, or reconnected with someone. There’s something magical about recognizing a kindred soul and claiming them as part of my circle. It’s broadened a little recently, and I love that!
Connecting with others, whether as friends, romantic partners, mentor, or family, helps us see the world from a different perspective. It helps us understand and appreciate that we don’t all have to be the same to respect and love one another.
And in this crazy, messed up world, couldn’t we all use more of that? More friendship? More understanding? More love?
Look for those moments of connection and nurture them. Maybe then we’ll be able to build bridges instead of walls.