My best friend L. and I have been friends for eleven years. Our friendship has spanned seven cities; the births of her two daughters; the subsequent swing rides & storytimes that come with these two (brave and literary) surrogate nieces; our respective relationships, graduate educations and careers. Great loss. Long-distance phone conversations.
Anthropologists talk about bonding and bridging relationships. Bonding friendships cohere around similarity. Bridging friendships span difference. These days, L.’s & my friendship has learned to bridge all kinds of difference.
Ten years ago L. and I traveled in Italy for a summer. We were both coming off semesters abroad in different parts of Europe, and we’d both gotten a little scholarship money to fund our summer travel. L. and I are the same kind of traveler. While in Italy, we’d happily spend entire afternoons staring at one painting, or one Etruscan sculpture.
One week, when other plans fell through, we unexpectedly made a detour to Sirmione, on Italy’s Lago di Garda, where for several days we swam under the shadows of the Dolomites mountains and explored the ruins of a Roman villa, empty except for us, wandering between its columns.
In piazzas and pensiones and against the this marbled past, L. and I talked about the anticipated arcs our lives might shape.
I am so grateful for the strength and resiliency and grace of our friendship, which has bridged all the things we imagined, and all the things we could not.