Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Falling in Like


A certain friendship experience that must be universal, but which I've never seen referenced in fiction or essay, is the experience of falling in complete unromantic love with another person. It's fast, it's giddy, and it's usually mutual. You know it, don't you? It can't just be me. You're at a dinner party and you start chatting with some acquaintance and all of a sudden you think, she is so cool. The rest of the party flies by; suddenly it's midnight and your spouse and the party's hostess are looking at you both impatiently as you gab away with your new best friend, oblivious. How to explain it, this fast-clicking? For me, it happens before we realize we have the usual things in common (interests, politics, age of children, profession). It's almost instant, and it feels like relief. I belong here.


While this must have happened in childhood, my first memory of falling-in-like comes from college. I was lost in the freshman haze when I met her. My roommate was a close friend of mine, but she was pretty enmeshed with her boyfriend, so I was feeling lonely. You know, that especially awful loneliness that happens when you are surrounded by people. My roommate introduced me to K, and I swear when our eyes met there were sparks. No, not the romantic kind — though K is beautiful. It was just that sense of "I know you" that happens between strangers from time to time. I remember she was wearing a yin-and-yang ring and a poncho from Juarez, and she said something that made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. Nobody else seemed to get it: it was just the two of us, sharing a joke, and that became how we spent the next four years of college. Laughing uncontrollably at things nobody else understood.

These fast-click friendships are mysterious in a way that pleases me: they seem to defy explanation. How can you intuit so quickly that someone is a good match for you? And why don't other good matches make their presence known sooner? I have other friendships — the majority, in fact — that built up over time, the old-fashioned way. Many of these have resulted in truly deep and rewarding friendships, pairings that have lasted years. But I had no particular alert at first that we were going to bond the way we eventually did. Conversely, I have experienced the fast-click with people whose paths continued perpendicular to mine. Sometimes our worldviews were too different, sometimes our daily lives just didn't overlap enough to give us time together. The feeling doesn't always result in a long-term friendship. But a number of close friendships have been born out of this like-at-first-sight experience, and I cherish them. I also wonder why we don't hear more about them. Why novels and TV shows and movies don't depict the lovely, singular moment when you meet someone and you feel seen, understood, and accepted — instantly.


So: Have you seen depictions of fast-clicking in storytelling? Have you experienced it yourself? Is it just a girl thing? I wonder if men can allow themselves to feel this way about another man, frankly — though it must happen, and it's not at all sexual. 

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for bringing this up. Yes, I've met a few rare people, of both genders, that I've liked right away and with whom I've enjoyed enduring friendships --the two longest being 47 years and counting. I treasure them.

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    1. Forty-seven years! You should have a Golden Anniversary party when you reach 50. That's really cool.

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  2. I just reread one of my favorite novels, Something Borrowed. And then I reread Something Blue on its heels. Then I picked up Maine hoping for a little more of same. I actually can't get enough of the friendship dynamic in storytelling and would love to see more of it done well, with deep humanity.

    Fantastic post, ma dear. ;)

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    1. Thank you! Sounds like I will have to check out those books.

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  3. It's funny how you can have an instant feeling of consanguinity with someone. It would be interesting to study such a phenomenon formally, but of course, that would ruin it.

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    1. I had to look up "consanguinity." What a great word!

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