There’s the friend you wonder if you knew in another lifetime. They’re an excellent dancer and they are always moving, but not fidgeting, and they know when to be around people and when to not. You and this friend are sort of similar. They float in and out of conversations at parties. They don’t like strawberry flavored things. They’re chill enough to smoke pot at a party, even if they’ve been drinking, because they’re not going to freak out and get too stoned. They’ll probably just change the music when nobody is watching and start a dance party. They’ll also probably engage you in a conversation where they ask you lots of questions that you are actually excited to answer, and then when you want to reciprocate and ask them lots of questions also because you’re genuinely interested in their life and what they’re doing with it, their attention is required elsewhere, and you feel like you’re constantly missing them. It’s not a bad feeling, because you still feel like you have an understanding of who they are, and you’re not sure exactly where that feeling comes from? But it’s probably why you wonder if you knew them in another lifetime.
There’s the friend you see once in a blue moon, rarely keep tabs on, but every time you do it’s the best.day.ever and everything is wonderful and seamless. The last time you saw each other was in San Francisco, when she invited you out to lunch. You ate Thai food with peanut sauces, talked about female hardships, ex- boyfriends, and music. You went to Amoeba and listened to records together, some of which she bought, while you refrained due to baggage restrictions. You left the store and went to Zam Zam where her beautiful Iranian friend worked the bar at 4pm and gave you beers and heavier drinks. You sat with the locals and talked about music, everyone was cynical and sweet in the deep red tones of the circular room where you all shared liquids. You walked outside and smoked a bowl before getting into a Lyft Line with another woman who didn’t acknowledge either of you (that’s fine, not everyone’s into that) and went to Burma Love to meet up with your friend’s bestie, an incredible woman who worked as a social worker and lawyer with incarcerated children and grown men. Maybe you were high but that didn’t change the fact that the friend blew your mind with her stories, coupled with the intensity of flavors and quality of the food that sat in front of you (then quickly, in your belly) telling you about men who could make you weep with their lives and will to live. She gives you a weed caramel candy, just because, before the three of you leave for your friend’s house on a hill. Your Uber driver is a wonderful old Chinese man with a heavy accent who jokes about (and wonders) why Air BnB is called that it is if it isn’t in the air. The explanation and conversation that follows has you all in fits. When you finally get to the house, you sit outside on the deck in front of a fire pit that doesn’t light, and share stories and giggles with tequila drinks in hand. She gives you her Bob Marley scarf and tells you to hold onto it so that you’re forced to see her again, as George Costanza from Seinfeld would say.
There’s the friend you communicate with primarily over email. There are multiple friends like this. They’re really eloquent and sometimes you try and imitate their writing style when responding to their emails, but what’s even better, is when you don’t try to imitate, and then you realize that this friend forces you to be yourself in writing and you try and sound as close as you can to yourself, because email is so important and so much can get lost in the internet travels. This friend lives in the country, outside the country, in your city, down the street. There are so many of them. You love email because it allows them to express themselves more than they normally would, and you love seeing how they express themselves. They tell you about the drugs they take, about their traumas, about their families, and about their romances. You tell them about the amount of alcohol you drank last weekend, how you’ve vowed to stop drinking even though you’re drinking a glass of wine while responding to them, and you also talk about how you’re no longer in love with your best friend – it’s a great day for everyone. You also don’t find it strange that you both write to each other so frequently. You’re both dramatic writers and you often find yourselves funnier over the internet than in real life. You ask them multiple times to try and explain why that is the case, and they always ignore the question, probably because they know the answer but feel silly having to explain it to you because you should know it but don’t.
You wonder if your therapist is allowed to be your friend. You guess they’re not, because you don’t know enough about their life to consider them a friend, but they root for you the same way a friend might, and they allow you to text them during emergencies, and they always listen, but then you also wonder, are friends always expected to listen? Probably not. Therapists get paid to listen, friends don’t, and then you wonder what kind of world it would be for you if you had to pay for friendships and not pay for advice, if advice was just free and you could just get it from talking to a stranger on the street who maybe you know but maybe you don’t know at all. Your therapist is someone you describe to other people as someone who would be your friend if they weren’t your therapist, and you often wonder if that’s okay, because there’s no rulebook for how a therapist should be, just the same as there’s no rulebook for how a person and a friend should be. So you accept them as your therapist who could be your friend if they weren’t your therapist.
There’s the friend who is really good at keeping tabs on you and you appreciate it because sometimes you just want to disappear. She asks a lot of thought-out and meaningful questions and actually cares about the answers. She says really sweet things to lift you up on bad days, and can be really methodical and technical in a way that you are not, something you love about her because you want to be more like that but you know you just aren’t wired in the same way. You’re wired to stay up until 2am and decide at that hour of the evening that it’s the perfect time to rearrange every single piece of furniture in your bedroom so that your zen can recalibrate and so you can wake up at whatever ungodly hour you’ve neglected to plan for, at peace. She’s the friend who will decide that it’s time to reorganize her apartment and then she’ll do it, at a reasonable hour, not at 2am. It will look great. You appreciate her for her ability to check in on the darkest days (which you try to reciprocate), understanding and commiserating familial issues, and for your gchat history which is riddled with existential discoveries, genuine honesty, praise for one another, friend gossip, and a smattering of other topics that could probably fill a book.
There’s the friend who lives in another state who will always be your chosen sibling. Or one of your chosen siblings. They’re not in constant communication because they’re really busy living their Best Life. Perhaps this term has to be explained, as Oprah’s coined it in such a way that makes it overly accessible and overused – most of the time it still applies, but in this specific instance it’s about the friend who knows they’ve got a voice that can be loud and heard by many and they know how to amplify it. Maybe they did not always know this about themselves. Maybe they were really funny in college about going to class, and maybe they intimidated you a lot when you first met them. This is the friend that you can talk to whenever about whatever, who tags you in videos on Facebook that speak to your best self, whether it’s a person making dumb faces or an otter waving to its friends, they get you and know that you will giggle. They’re the friend you want to see do everything in the world and they probably will do everything and when they do it will be glorious and you’ll say “I knew them when they weren’t doing everything, and I still know them now” because they are humble and lovely and you know they won’t change with fame.
There’s the friend who is there for you in crisis mode. She’s there to support you when you call her at 3am her time (6am your time) and offers to fly out from LA when your boyfriend at the time makes you feel like a degenerate of a human, when he is actually the degenerate. She listens to you rant for ages about your parents’ terrible marriage and how it’s slowly rotting the roots of your family, though she doesn’t judge them or look at them differently after the storm has passed, because she knows you still love them a lot despite everything because they’re still great parents. She’s the friend who writes you cards on your birthday, sends money to the bar you’re at so that you can get liquid- loose on her dime, and remembers the important things that matter to you. She’s there for the harder moments and sometimes you talk every day and sometimes you don’t and it’s okay when you don’t because you still somehow feel connected and you can’t explain it. It’s a weird thing and you love each other a lot. You understand each other’s neuroses and she gets your germaphobe ways.
There’s the group of friends you’re in love with as a collective. At one point in your life, you called them your collective boyfriend. Their genders are fluid in your mind. On weeknights you cook together and watch shows that feel easy and relaxing, spattered with giggles and cuddles that are totally platonic. They’re the activity partners you seek in one person, but aren’t capable of maintaining because two brains aren’t always good at being on the same page about being just activity partners, and it’s hard to cook and go to the movies with one person and not have them ask “what are we” so you flirt with these friends but don’t realize it until you get home later that night, and you wonder if the only reason you’re all friends is because you’re all slightly attracted to one another? And then you continue to wonder about that and whether or not that’s actually important, because it’s probably not, and if attraction is what glues you all together, fine that’s great, but then what if that attraction dies? And you don’t want to think about that because you’re really okay with having a collective boyfriend in this group of friends.