A month ago, nine of us got together for a languid, late afternoon catch up. These people that I saw on that Saturday, in the confines of a comfortable coffee shop, these people are what I call the cozy breath of home. Friendships that mean more than just people catching up.
I’d known them for 23 years. For many of us, that’s a lifetime.
I’ve transitioned through a very odd phase of my life in the last 6 years. Ever since I took up blogging as more than just a hobby, the online space grew to be my world.
Working from home meant that I’d never have to go too far to find a person to talk to. They were always there on the other side of a screen, waiting to like a status update or a picture I’d shared. Maybe drop a comment on a note or a poem I’d written.
And that was it. They were like spectral apparitions, who appeared and disappeared when the time was right. They never lingered long enough to ask the real questions behind the funny status updates. Well, most of them anyway.
It was easy, this form of friendship. It demanded very little and took up hardly any space.
But the friends I saw on that day in early February reminded me that I was capable of forging deep, meaningful relationships with people.
The kind of connections that meant staying over at a classmate’s home to finish a journalism project on time.
Or the kind where they’d come over to keep me from harming myself when I was battling hallucinations during my clinical depression phase.
Or the kind where you’d sit in silence, holding each other, as one friend grieved the loss of a parent.
Words didn’t have to be spoken in these relationships. We didn’t have to connect with each other daily online. In fact, most of us don’t.
We meet once in 3 or 6 or 9 months and catch up with all the news that we’ve missed since we met last.
And I would have ended this post here, on the apparent notion that offline friendships mean more than the ones online, but that’s only half the truth.
Because, even though I haven’t forged as many deep friendships online as I have offline, there have been some that have stood the test of time- and the barriers erected by social media.
There is that friend who is the first person I message whenever something exciting happens in my life. She lives 9000 miles away and I met her online when I was looking for schools for my daughter back in 2011. A friendship I consider one of my fiercest, strongest and most incredibly unconditional, that words cannot do it justice, although I did try once.
Then there are those 3 friends I have never met in person but who know pretty much everything that happens in my life, because they take the effort to reach out regularly. And the fact that they live in 3 different parts of the world makes no difference. They love me as though they’ve known me since childhood.
Or what about those friends whom I met online and then met offline a number of times, each time learning that a friendship is not defined by geography, similar interests or even the same mindset, but by being respectful of one another’s points of view?
So it isn’t about how long I’ve known someone or how effortlessly they align with my wavelength that determines a friendship.
And it is with some grace and gratitude that I learnt a very important thing: A friendship that survives is the only kind of friendship that truly matters.
*On the beauty of online friendships, you must read this eloquent piece by one of my favourite writers.