One day in the spring of my sophomore year, Raul (aka the creator of this lovely blog, in case you didn’t know) came to visit me at UNC, where I go to school. After stuffing ourselves with fries and burgers at Buns, we walked/waddled/rolled back across upper quad towards his car. It was the Wednesday before Easter; we would be riding home to Charlotte together two days later, on Good Friday.
“You know,” I said, “we could have just waited and done this on Friday, since we’re going to be seeing each other anyway.”
“We could have,” he said. “But friendship is the only thing in life that doesn’t have to make logistical sense.”
For those of you devoted readers who don’t personally know Raul, let me introduce you to him:
- Yes, he actually talks like that in real life.
- He works in Supply Chain Operations, which, from what I can understand, which admittedly is not much, is a fancy name for “Efficiently Getting Stuff Where It Needs To Be,” or just Logistics. And he’s passionate about this weird, essential, little-known field, which is great, because if everyone found it as boring as I do, oranges would still be an exotic treat that kids only tasted once a year at Christmastime, and Walmart would not exist. So his declaration that friendship doesn’t need to be logistical means that
- relationships are very important to him.
Not only does he value his relationships highly, but he forms them easily. As easily as a fish can swim, or a knife can cut butter. As easily as Donald Trump can alienate minorities. Once, Raul and I went to a play together, and he made a friend while waiting for me outside the bathroom at intermission. The kid makes Genuine Human Connections in the time it takes me to pee. Now, let me introduce myself:
- I’m your friend on Snapchat who opens all your snaps but never snaps you back.
- I can often be found hiding in the bathtub at parties to avoid awkward small talk.
Don’t get me wrong, I love people. It’s just that something about the sentence “Hi my name is Colleen” makes me uncomfortable and I don’t know why.
- I was never great at reaching out in the first place, but when I went to college, I really let most of my high school friendships fall by the wayside. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies to friends as much as anything else, I guess. Only when I went home for the summer after my sophomore year did I begin to realize my mistake.
Raul, my back door neighbor and conveniently located go-to hangout buddy, was not-so-conveniently located in Texas for an Amazon internship. Many of my childhood friends had moved away. I had fallen out of touch with the neighbor kids with whom I used to play two-hand-touch football and kickball and basketball and freeze tag and games we made up ourselves. So one night that summer when I was feeling antsy and wanted to hang out with someone, I examined my options and found that none of them were as easy or convenient as they had once been.
I distinctly remember a teacher in middle school telling my class, “You have more friends now than you’ll ever have in the future.” Which is one of those horrible things our elders say to us every so often, like a refrain; others include “college will be the best four years of your life.” Is that supposed to make me excited for college? When you say to me, “college will be the best four years of your life,” what I hear is “it’s all downhill from here, kids.”
Anyway, my problem with the contention that one has more friends in middle school than any other time in life is that it’s not true. First of all, middle schoolers have a warped sense of what friendship even is. For example, friendships end on the turn of a dime (“Me and Ashley aren’t friends anymore”) or start on the turn of a stick of Trident (“If you give me a piece of gum I’ll be your best friend”). Second, I think what that teacher meant when she said “You have more friends now than you’ll ever have” was actually “Never again will you be so closely surrounded by people your own age, who, in taking the same classes as you and living in your area, inherently have things in common with you.” In other words, never again will friendship be so convenient.
The older I get, the less convenient my friendships become. Where once I could walk down the street to see my friends, I now have to drive, maybe even fly. Once I was forced to see my friends every day at school; now I have to make the effort to get together. In not making that effort, I realized I had become what I never thought I would be: someone who neglects doing things just because they’re hard. For a wannabe psychologist who believes that people matter above almost anything else, I was talking the talk but not walking the walk.
On July 1st, my single oldest friend, whom I have known since our first day of kindergarten, turned 20. I called her to wish her happy birthday and gripe about how old we had become and marvel at how far we had made it. In the same conversation, she invited me to her older sister’s wedding as her plus one.
After feeling honored, of course, my first reaction was skepticism. The wedding was taking place in Durham, two and a half hours away from my home in Charlotte, and I would be moving back to Chapel Hill three days later anyway, and that was a lot of traveling and logistics and where would I even stay the night…
I caught myself. I had known this girl since before either of us could spell our names. I had known her sister just as long. I had ridden to and from soccer practice and school in her family’s car and spent the night in her bed, and she had done all the same with me. There was no way I was going to miss her sister’s wedding day, especially not if the only thing stopping me was logistical details.
Love is patient, they say. Love is kind. They never said love was convenient.
I’ve been realizing more and more that nothing in life is as valuable as relationships with other people. I wouldn’t give away my relationships–not even the inconvenient ones–for the world. We need people to love us arbitrarily, simply because they met us first, even though we live far away, even though it doesn’t make logistical sense, even though we’re obnoxious at times, as all humans are.
The wedding day arrived and was a success, despite a shoe crisis or two. At the reception afterwards, I met the mother of the groom, who had invited her own childhood friend.
“There’s nothing like old friends,” she said. “They’re a very special thing.”
I told her sincerely that I felt lucky to have even one. And privately, I knew that by the time my child is old enough to be married, my First Best Friend will be at that wedding, too, because that second F in BFF stands for something. It really does.
About Colleen Watson
Colleen J Watson is a junior at UNC Chapel Hill studying Psychology, Neuroscience, and Hispanic Studies. She is president of co-ed a cappella group The Tarpeggios–check them out! In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing fiction, nonfiction, and music (listen here!), playing Zelda, eating, and now, actually texting her friends back.
Note from Raul: she also thinks that ice cream is damn tasty! (Yes, I’m super jelly of her chocolate-covered cone) ~R
Feature photo by Kevin Curtis