I am iChatting with a friend. We have been friends since first semester of college, freshman year. This was in the late 80s. Sporting similar outfits, and looks, it seemed natural to become friends. Almost like a brother, and in some ways he was. I was a little sister at the fraternity he and other good friends were at. A natural fit of geeks, nerds, weirdos, science heads, artists and other non-conformists. Somewhere, buried away in storage, there are pictures of us accidentally matching. I have a blond perm, he has natural blond curls, worn long (poet style). Buttoned down white shirts, jeans or black pants, black converse hi tops, long black overcoat... listening to the Cure or the Smiths or New Order or something on our walkmans. This friend and I never dated, though there were times when our boundaries blurred a little. Both of us too important to the other to ruin with sex, and closer than most. A girlfriend of his asked me once if I was jealous, because she was sleeping with him and assumed I wanted to. I just smiled, and said no, because I knew he and I would be friends the rest of our lives.
We don't catch up too often, which is fair enough. He has a rambling and growing young family, and lives across the continent. 12 years ago, he came to visit me in Denmark, for a long visit over New Years. It was wonderful, we were completing each other's thoughts and sentences before too long. Naturally, the questioned of "are you really the one?" popped up. We loved firecely, but were not in love with each other. We had been each other's "person marry you if not otherwise married by 30". We were turning 29. He met his now wife about two weeks after our visit. And, she is the right woman to love him.
Today we are lamenting and sharing, kids growing up, wife staying home to raise them, the cost of health insurance, being self employed vs employed with benefits. It's really hard to keep up, even harder when you aren't a wealthy person but live in an expensive place. Your kids know exactly how much they go without. We probably haven't chatted in a year, and that is irrelevant. He and his family are part of my extended clan. If they moved into an RV and I had land, they could camp on it. He has just offered me the dream playhouse in the backyard, should I need it, and should he ever build it.
We are still friends not because of what we do, who we know, or where we live. But because of who we are, always have been. I think of these friends, the ones who rarely make up my daily or even monthly life, but the people I have connected with across time and space, and just always have a thread in my heart's tapestry. Always, I will have bread to break with them. Always, there is a space to shelter, even if just a lowly tent. We tend to up the offers. A few years ago, when Massachussetts was buried under what seemed like 20 feet of snow, I said my Forester would be happy to drive across country and fetch the family out of the snow drift, just ask.
There are people I love dearly, but have no idea how well we'd fare without the trappings and conveniences of modern life. Some of us will lose it all because of the economy. Maybe a fire or flash flood will take down a home. Mental illness, drug abuse, divorce could probably drive us away from building a secure nest and secure neighbors. He and I have lived thousands of miles apart since graduation, criss crossing in different directions, but I put him in my mental village. Even if the village is made of tents and yurts and communal fire pits. The less stuff we have, the more portable our lives and relationships. Some friendships transcend all the clatter and just exist in their own dimension. The commonality being the cross section of our souls, not hobbies, habits or zip codes.
Thank science we have the wonderful technology we have to keep in touch. Of course, without these interwebs, I would likely have managed to lose contact with too many people I care to know. People I know I would enjoy without the facebook and IM and skype and text message. I don't keep a list around of who those people are. They just show up, somehow in my DNA, and life together begins and ends again, for ten minutes online or a dinner on a weekend trip nearby. It makes is feel whole again, found again, as if in all the universe this other person is bound to another by some unknown beacon.