Earlier this afternoon, I went to the White Coat Investiture Ceremony for new med students to support my best friend, Meredith. Meredith and I see each other only rarely, despite the fact that we’ve spent the better part of the past eighteen months living in the same city again, never more than a bus ride apart. It doesn’t matter, though; the friendship we forged in seventh grade formed originally because we were thrown together, then strengthened because of how we are similar and different. Seeing Meredith is always like seeing someone I just left yesterday, even if it’s been two years.
As we arrive at the twelfth anniversary of our friendship—from this point on, we will have known one another longer than we haven’t—I think about all the things we’ve been through together and separately that make it so she introduces me to her extended family as “my best friend in the whole world.” Was there a ceremony I failed to notice was happening? Was one trial—one bad boyfriend, one mean-spirited teacher, one unsympathetic parent—the one that made us the friends we are today, or is there something in each of us bound to find accord in the other, and those parts only wanted opportunity?
Struck by self-doubt as I often am, I puzzle over the wherefores of my friendships, particularly with people I esteem so greatly as I do Mere. What is it really that makes us such good friends? I’ve only thought about it more since I started using Twitter a lot; not only do I feel real connections to many of the people I interact with daily, but some of my Twitter pals and I seemed to form almost instant, very strong rapports on the basis of a few 140-character missives. Jason, Kylee, and I have our made-up pseudo-sibling bond, for instance. Yes, it starts with “made-up,” but I can’t think of two stronger advocates for me. Kylee does it in her sneaky way, using a few discreet tweets, DMs, and emails. Jason’s the loudmouth who blogs about everyone who makes him happy (and sometimes makes them cry in the process). They both have my back. I have theirs. There’s trust in our silly relationship that is not invention, no matter how the relationship is labeled or how quickly it came into being. (And it did come into being quickly. #TWSS)
Dev’s the latest addition to my list of people to whom I felt freakily close in a short period of time. Dev found me through Kylee (see? Kylee, sneakily at it again), and within a few days of verbally abusing me on Twitter, offered me a gig being ridiculous. Then we started talking, and discovered that we’re similar beyond an apparent severe disconnect from the rational world and that we felt an almost instinctive trust for one another. What misadventure have Dev and I shared? When have I given him a hug when the world was collapsing around him?
As for my #HeLP, Ruth, I feel as though I’ve been able to be there for her at least a little bit this summer, even if the difference I personally made was small. I decided within a day of following Ruth that I wanted to be friends with her, and I told her so. The conversations we have privately crack me up, make me cry, make me feel like I really am tough enough to deal with the bad days . . . everything you’d expect from talking to someone you trust very much. If Ruth wants the shirt off my back, she’s got it. (And, because it is tradition that we try to break the internet, if she wants to make me fish that shirt out of a pool of Jell-o, she’s got that, too.)
These are not the only people on Twitter I trust, nor the only ones I’ve come to trust quickly, but they are the people who zero-to-sixty-ed me in that, in a matter of a day or three, I went from having no idea who they were to finding they matter a lot. (Kylee gets my television and blu-ray. Ruth and Jason can fight over my books, except the poetry and Stoppard, which go to Dev.) They may not each feel the exact same way about me, but that’s all right. That’s not the point, necessarily. The point is, I have confidence in not being betrayed by them, and it’s not on the basis of a close friendship built and sustained over the course of twelve years. And it feels like it counts.
I think that the friendships I’ve formed on Twitter—these and others—will benefit from continued contact, from reinforcement of the relationships, just as my friendship with Meredith has over time. I don’t think, though, that they are weak or insubstantial, that they won’t withstand bumps and bruises. However virtual, they feel real.