Sarah

I have a friend I’ve been seeing a lot lately. We’ll call her Scout. This week, Scout and I ate dinner together on Thursday, ate dinner together on Wednesday, ate lunch AND dinner AND watched a movie together on Monday, and we gchatted regularly all week long. My first gchat in the morning, my last gchat at work. And Saturday night, when my chores were done, I found myself thinking, “I wonder if Scout wants to come over for onion rings.”

There are people around me I like better than Scout. People in whom I might be better off investing—roommates I live with; women who are lonelier; men who, you know, are men. (No offense, Scout.)

We’re not even very much alike. Maybe not even kindred spirits. Scout is scrappy. She feels strongly about labor unions (against). She listens to—and quotes—Dr. Laura. But still, right now, this week, she’s my go-to girl.

Why?

This is what I considered as I drove home Saturday night, contemplating the reality that I might call Scout for our fifth social event in six days. And, merging into the southbound lane on I-395, it hit me: she was out of town. A day trip. I couldn’t call her. And then, speeding across the 14th Street bridge, it really hit me: her schedule. I call Scout—feel comfortable calling Scout—because I know her schedule. And it’s a lot like mine.

Somehow this realization made me feel cheap. Sad. Like a fair-weather friend. Or rather, like a hey-you-work-within-walking-distance-from-me-let’s-hang-out-always friend. As though, despite years of tasting the pure, transformative sweetness of true friendship, I had become a give-up-what-I-want-most-for-what-I-can-get-most-accessibly kind of person.

But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I mean, geography does this to us too, right? And almost unavoidably. We’re friends with who we’re friends with only because, at some point, something willed us into geographical proximity with those people. We were like electrons colliding. Hey! Look at you! Look at me! We’re colliding! Let’s be friends! (Okay, I don’t remember my chemistry all that well. Don’t look into that metaphor too closely.)

Think of it. If we—the whole of humankind, past, present, and future—were lined up in some great cosmic matching game with the people MOST like us or MOST complementary to us or MOST likely to be our best friends, what are the chances we would end up with the exact five or ten or twenty people we now prefer the most? What are the chances?

Let’s not talk about it. No, seriously. I want to end this post now. The cosmic matching idea terrifies me.  I hate the idea that if the cosmic yentas were to make a list of the People With Whom Sarah Olson Would Best Be Friends, my current actual best friends might not top it.  It’s a lame hypothetical.  A stupid one.  And it’s impossible.  And we shouldn’t let a mere Monday blogger take from us the certainty that the people we love best are the people we’d love best, no matter how much the odds would be against it if such a cosmic matching game were possible, WHICH IT’S NOT, so we’ll return, thank you, to our worlds, in our times, in our area codes, with our respective jobs and commutes home to Virginia/wherever. And to the rockstar/awesome/fair-to-middling-but-a-darn-sight-better-than-middle-school friends that come with that.

In other words: We are where we are and we love whom we love. And if that goes well, and the people around us love us back, then that’s a miracle that transcends time. And one that testifies of the congeniality of the human spirit.

If we have this many friends in this geo-generation-schedule-access zone, think of how many we’ll have in heaven.

Scout laughs at my jokes and likes that/when I laugh at hers. And I know if I gchat her at 3 pm and say, “Any chance you could be interested in a cookie at 4?” she’s likely to say, “Are you paying?” Which, I’m coming to learn, is Scout’s way of saying, “Yes, Sarah. I’ll meet you at the Potbelly’s between us.”

I like it when she says that.

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