Two friends at Sather Gate, UC Berkeley (Photo by me, March 2020)
Friendships are strange, curious things, that shift, evolve, and sadly, sometimes break over time. The pandemic has been especially punishing on many of our relationships—and yet, I have been surprised by the friendships that have nourished me over this absolutely awful period. People often say it’s especially hard to make new friends in our adult years, but again, the past year has surprised me. Friendships need effort, but they should also feel effortless. Friendship is showing up over and over again, bearing witness, as the poet and philosopher David Whyte writes in his beautiful book, Consolations, “to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span.” And friendships, like all human relationships, will inevitably have conflict—but being able to navigate that conflict, in an open, honest, and respectful way, is what makes friendship stronger.
Last year, just before the pandemic raged across the US, I returned to the Bay Area, where I attended college, for the first time in fifteen years. I was surprised how with some friends, it felt like no time had passed at all. It was wonderful, and it felt like stumbling on something I thought I had lost for good. And I was surprised by an unexpected friendship that grew over time with someone I never really knew when I lived in the Bay, in the years after we lost a friend we both loved. I wrote It's Always Jacket Weather in the City, a little love letter to friendship, San Francisco, and the ones who are no longer with us, but we will always carry in our hearts.
I hope you are keeping well and safe.