Friendship is a funny thing. I don’t mean transient internet-era friendships – you know, the Facebook friends with whom you’ve exchanged a grand total of two words. I’m talking about friendships forged between two people because of shared values and experiences or maybe developed despite conflicting personalities. Friendship, as Harry Potter has taught us, is hard work. My best friend in Wausau and I met in fifth grade and for that first year could not cross paths without tearful arguments. Now, after lots of time both together and apart there is nothing I look forward to more than a phone call, Skype-date or text message exchange with her.
Then there’s that unique type of friend – a person you share a rare experience with and then, when it’s over, you go your separate ways. This is what happened upon returning from Jordan in August if 2007. The girls I was closest to returned to their lives in Kentucky and California as I returned to mine in Wisconsin. Our adventurous, thrill-seeking trio was spread across the country; we travelled, finished high school, started college, chatted on Facebook occasionally, but keeping in touch is difficult even in the age of the internet. Well, now I’m 70 miles from Louisville and C, as she’ll be called, is about 100 miles away from Louisville in the other direction. So we met to go “exploring” on Saturday. I was awesome – not just the wandering, spelunking and underground ziplineing – the friendship. We still fit together like puzzle pieces – who else understands or makes jokes about niqabs? Seriously, raise your hand if you even know what a niqab is; raise both hands if you know how to wear one.
As far as recovery goes, friends are obviously vital. My best friend from Wausau, who I’ll call A, saw me at my worst and has been supportive over the past year and a half. I can chat with her about anxiety, depression, school, work, sisters, travel, anything – she won’t shy away. This is a well founded friendship – we’ve argued, we’ve changed, we’ve grown, but we’ve always come back to each other. Even anorexia couldn’t isolate me from her; for those of us who experienced its insulation, we know this is a true mark of friendship.
C on the other hand hasn’t heard the details or seen the emaciation. She hasn’t been there through all the tragedies of the past year; this distance gives our friendship a different sort of value. We can pick up where we left off – bilingual, adventurous to the edge of stupidity, sharing a cultural experience that few Americans understand – the interceding years are part of the chatter but only to the degree we want them to be.
It’s been a good week for me – helping to break the loneliness of nearly seven weeks in an unfamiliar community. I’ve communicated with the only two people I have ever called “best friends” as well as my sister in Vietnam. Tomorrow Mum and Jane arrive in the Hoosier state. I’m finally not alone. I’ve done well – adjusted pretty seamlessly, assumed a plethora of new responsibilities (from house hunting to grocery shopping), but it feels good to spend time, whether in person or by phone, with the people who make me feel complete.