i spent friday night alone, revelling in being back home in familiar spaces, and started stacking my time with people starting on saturday morning, beginning with breakfast at prune with a friend i met on tumblr about 7 years ago. (holy crap, it’s been 7 years! i literally stumbled onto her tumblr when i was going through hashtags for one of alexander wang’s RTW shows!)
the concept of “online friends” might seem alien and/or weird to some, but i’ve been making friends via the internet for at least a decade now. some have become good friends, while i’ve yet to meet some “in real life”, but whatever the physical status, these friendships are like any other friendship — the fact they originated and/or continue online doesn’t make them any less real or valid or valuable than the ones i carry out in-person.
maybe this will make better sense to some out there if i add this: that living across the country from my core group of people has inevitably taken my core community on-line. we primarily text now. we email. we exchange DMs on instagram. we occasionally facetime or talk on the phone. we might facebook chat if i were on facebook.
long-distance teaches you that being present in people’s lives doesn’t always mean being present physically. it doesn’t mean those physical relationships aren’t important; i don’t actually believe that online relationships are totally sufficient because we need physicality, we need hugs and sensorial contact; and that’s why i will continue to make the effort to bring as many of my online friendships into “real life” as i can. i love these connections i’ve made, though, and i love them even more when we’re sitting across the table from each other, talking about everything we talk about online but in-person, interrupting each other and laughing together and becoming more than social media handles and profile pictures to each other.
saturday was a day for old friends, though, friends i’ve known for years, who have been a part of my life for years. these are the connections i was afraid to lose when i had to come back to california earlier this year, so i was a little nervous going back, wondering if much would be changed, if i were holding onto nostalgia when our lives had gone marching on for months. i’m glad to report all that nervousness was for naught.
one of the biggest highlights of my weekend was catching up with my book club. we came together a few years ago because i went to a marilynne robinson event in park slope in 2014 and i was leaving when someone stopped me in the aisle and said, are you anna? it turned out we were in the same vocational intensive that season, and she gave me her email, so i emailed her, and we became friends, and she said, i know these other women who also read robinson and maybe we should get together and talk about lila, so we did that, and that became a book club, and we’d meet every month (or so) to chat about our book of the month but, really, to eat and talk and hang out.
i don’t think i can ever fully express how much i miss this group of women when i’m in LA.
we met up for lunch at one of my favorite places, at their west village outpost, and we exchanged sweaty hugs and sat down to drinks and pizza in a noisy, cozy restaurant space, shouting at each other even though we were smushed together against the wall. we talked lives and books (and got in a mention of lacan at one point) and current updates, and time went faster than i wished it would.
i wished it weren’t so loud in the restaurant. i wished we could linger more. i wished i wasn’t so far from all this now, that this was still our monthly thing, gathering at an apartment and sharing food and alcohol and company.
i miss a lot about home, but there’s little i miss more acutely, more intensely, than this.