11 minute read

The other day, as I was waiting outside the vet clinic to pick up Elvis, a woman caught my eye. She was standing nearby, impeccably dressed and presumably waiting for her fur bundle as well, at the same clinic. And something struck me. You ever get the feeling that someone is looking at you well before they realize you know that they're looking at you? A moment of serendipitous stolen glances? Obviously, in New York, sometimes these moments can be far less than ideal (and come with their own fair share of inappropriate comments, but that's another story, for another day), but other times, they're just glorious! Like kismet in the making. Of friends and lovers, alike.

Back to this woman though. I noticed a look in her eyes as she glanced over my dress. "Tell me everything about your outfit!" she said. I smiled and replied with the universal olive branch response: "Thank you! It has pockets!"

We eventually got to chatting about the dress, about the city, about why our dogs were at the clinic that day and before I knew it, I was 30 minutes into a lovely conversation with a woman whose name I didn't know! (I know, I know, where were my manners?!).

Her dog was discharged first, so our neighborly chat ended there, but before leaving with her pooch, she turned to me and said, "I know this is going to sound strange, but would you want to grab a drink sometime? It's been so hard making new friends in the city lately."

In that moment, it dawned on me how often we put ourselves out there for dating, but we don't offer ourselves in the same way when it comes to forging new friendships, especially as we get older, busier and perhaps more set in our ways. 

All of this is to say, I think you'll love the friendship stories compiled here — all of them a beautiful reminder to not fear vulnerability when it comes to nurturing those nearest and dearest to us — the family of our own choosing. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to text my new friend back and arrange happy hour drinks. 

1. "My cousin, who's more like a sister as I'm only eight days older, and I had dwindled in connection. It'd be over a year and a half since communication and visits ceased, and for no specific reason.

After losing relatives in 2020, I wrote a letter (because, letter writing) about reconnecting.

A dinner in February, which we both admittedly felt oddly like a job interview, allowed us to repair an unoriginal case of miscommunication. Now, we're thick as thieves once again and she'll be my Maid of Honor next October.

Pushing pride, or whatever, aside was well worth it!"

2. "I have a group of girlfriends (four of them) that I met through work. We no longer work together or at the company, but our connection stayed intact.

We immediately clicked and had so much in common...from personality similarities, to fashion, beauty, politics, likes, dislikes and more. They're definitely sisters and a squad for sure. We have a group chat on Messenger and communicate daily about anything and everything. We lean on one another and are there for one another. They inspire and motivate me daily and are positive energy and light in my life.

When I lost my dad at the end of 2019 and my best friend at the beginning of 2020, they were there for me and still are.

I'm so thankful for these humans and the sisterhood we have."

3. "For strengthening current friendships: My husband and I are 10 years apart. Incidentally, he was the last of his friends to get married and have a kid while I was the first of my friends to get married and have a kid. We both found it important to always be excited for our friends no matter what life stages they're in — single, dating, married with kids, married without kids — and to always create an inclusive space so that our friends don't ever feel like outsiders. It's awesome having friends in so many different life stages and getting to celebrate where they are in life."

4. "The old saying of "quality over quantity" is so on point the older you get. After your 20s, everyone's schedule gets busier and busier. I cherish my quality time with my quality friends that push me to grow, be better and take risks, support me when I fall, make me belly laugh and make me feel so whole. They're limited, but the few I have are so golden."

5. "Five months before Covid hit, I moved from NYC to LA. I had amazing friendships in NYC. And I never felt like I had a problem connecting with folks or meeting them. Alas, I got offered a dream gig and moved to LA where I frequented but only would call one or two people, friends that live here. The thought of making new friends was daunting. And LA is very different from NYC. My normal way of making friends just was plausible in this work and car environment. People started introducing me to their friends that they knew lived here. And while in person meet ups were nonexistent this year, we started to connect via email, text and Zoom. And now I have a little crew that I connect with so well. I would have never leaned into tech if it weren't for the pandemic as a way to meet folks. But alas, I'm coming out of this with some solid friendships!"

6. "I went on a year long solo travel trip after college graduation. The European leg of my trip had to be delayed so I headed over to Canada instead even though it wasn't on my list. Did a one-month workaway in Toronto. The dude who I helped renovate his Victorian had a stepdaughter who was visiting him my first day. You know how in movies people make eye contact and you just swoon? That's how I felt with her. We made eye contact in this gorgeous kitchen and I knew immediately she was going to be in my life forever. And the rest is history. She has consistently celebrated me and been there and we show up for each other. We had plans to see each other at her graduation but Covid changed that. As for how to strengthen your friendships — show up. That's really it — be willing to learn your friend and show the heck up for the good and the bad in the best way you can. It's so freaking easy to get lazy or get distracted but friends are such blessings. Don't sleep on them. One of my college buddies and I exchange videos from the camera in the iPhone and just message them to each other. A bootleg Marco Polo but we have gotten closer. Another — we have foodie adventures where we eat one thing at five different places in one day (each adventure has a theme)."

7. "As an adult, most of my friendships began at a workplace. They either grew from there or were just casual grab a drink after the end of the day. A lasting friendship is one with my former grade partner. From the first day she knew I was interested in being the 'other kindergarten teacher' she hand wrote a name sign and placed it on my door before the principal made the decision. Through 13 years of teaching together, we led the Halloween parade in matching costumes. We were clowns, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Dorothy and the Scarecrow, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and very convincing witches. So convincing that when we made our playground entrance, children ran away! One year from Christmas, she gave me a Christmas cactus for a gift. I still have it. It's 18 years old. Even though we see each other often, we send cards to each other. We sign them YFP. Meaning Your Forever Partner. We are both great Phillies baseball fans. Our dream has been to be on the Jumbotron at a game. One September Sunday afternoon game, we did it. We made it three times that Sunday afternoon. And when the game was over and we were walking out, people said hello and were remarking about our Jumbotron success!"

8. "My childhood best friend and I have never gone to school together (we met running track) so we've always been pretty good at making time for each other — it was never a friendship of convenience. As kids, we would talk on the phone for hours and write six page letters to each other. Fast forward several years, she went away to a military college and I went to a small liberal school four hours away. Our letter writing skills really came in handy when she was going through the school's version of basic (break you) training! Ten years later, I moved to New York and she stayed in Charleston. A couple years after that, the pandemic hit. We started working out together every day over Zoom. Then it evolved to working out and cooking dinner and eating together. We definitely wouldn't have gotten through the lockdown as easily as we did without each other."

"I think it's a great lesson in holding onto those relationships and chasing them, helping one another find a way back to the people who matter most in your life. We normalize doing so for significant others or family; why not our closest friends, too?"

9. "New York City has been the place to reconnect with old friends and I'm so thankful for that. During my first week in NYC, I realized some old friends were also in the city. On my second week, I was on a rooftop looking at Brooklyn Bridge and sharing an amazing night with old friends from two different stages in my life. They made NYC feel like home right away. And without even asking, one of them became my guarantor (when he found out I was about to pay six months deposit up front because I was moving to the US with no credit history) and the other friend added me to her family phone plan! I mean, who does that?! Friends that become family.

Three weeks later, I was moving in to my apartment in the Upper East Side and I ran into a friend (at Starbucks). Last time I saw her, we were 17. Turns out, she was also moving to the UES and we were neighbors. We are best friends now and became each other's support system during the pandemic.

Last one: Summer of 2019 — on my way to be reunited with my Torino (Italy) roommates, American Airlines canceled my flight. Little did I know, but thanks to that, I ended up meeting one of my future good friends in New York City. We were both stuck and frustrated at LaGuardia — ended up sharing an Uber back to the city and having paella at Boqueria. We connected immediately and we started making plans for concerts, dinners, hikes. Thanks to American Airlines, I was late to my reunion but I also gained a great friendship that I'm sure will last forever."

10. "When I started my last job, I was nervous to meet the other manager. She and I would be working closely together, and we were about the same age. I was nervous because I'd worked with other women who were competitive and would throw me under a bus if it could advance their career. To make matters worse, Kristi was this gorgeous blonde girl who just seemed so cool. Great style, a great sense of humor and steely eyes that made me think right away that she'd seen some shit.

Our friendship started slowly. It was founded on a mutual respect for one another's work. I was in awe of her pragmatic approach to tackling big projects. She was a whiz at creating strategic plans and seeing the big picture. She admired my ability to connect with clients and our employees on a personal level. She came to me for writing advice and editing. We complemented one another on the working level and soon began hanging out socially.

First it was working lunches where the conversation veered into our married lives. Then it was walks at the dog park with our doggos. We began texting about anything and everything — to the point where my partner Todd assumes that if I'm texting, it's to Kristi.

She and I joke that if our husbands both die before we do, we are going to become Golden Girls in a villa in Italy somewhere. Kristi may have entered my life when I was 39 years old but I have no doubt that she will be an important person in my story for the rest of my life. I never thought I would find a kindred spirit so far into my life, but I'm grateful that I was open to that possibility."

11. "I moved to Geneva temporarily in the middle of the pandemic and found it really difficult. I didn't know anyone and making friends was difficult (because of the pandemic). Had never used Bumble BFF before but I used it for the first time and met a few girls who were in a similar situation. Truly made a huge difference in my mental health and even though I left, we're still in touch today!"

12. "My closest friend is 73 and I'm 41. She's young at heart and I have a bit of an old soul. It just works."

13. "Just be yourself."

14. "My now husband and I moved to a new area nine months pre-pandemic, and I've struggled to find a space where I fit in. We're in a midwestern university town, but I feel like, in our late 20s, we're in an anti-sweet spot between nowhere ready to join the 'parent crowd' but well beyond the 'young party crowd' that seems to surround us. I'd cultivated deep friendships at university and then law school, where I (a fellow old soul) connected with ambitious, fun, intellectual, well-rounded peers. While I've been keeping up these long distance friendships, I've spent the last few years mourning the day-to-day of the way things were — apero-dinners, drop-ins, our casually ritualistic nights together. One upside of the new ways of working coming through the pandemic has been so much more freedom in where to live and work. Now, as it happens, a close friend and another mutual-friend couple, through a series of perfect opportunities, are moving here this summer. I'm eternally grateful. I think it's a great lesson in holding onto those relationships and chasing them, helping one another find a way back to the people who matter most in your life. We normalize doing so for significant others or family; why not our closest friends, too?"

15. "I made good meaningful friendships through TikTok, Discord and Instagram. Finding ways in Covid is rough but can be done if you are open to it.

Regarding tips, I guess just making sure you are genuine when engaging in a conversation. Not just spamming the comments with meaningless word blobs.

There are definitely different levels of online friendship. I don't know how to describe it, it's just a vibe. But you'll know, if you really know yourself. You'll know when you've made a friend online.

And yeah, it's scary, you'll think of all the people who catfish and scam online but I've been lucky to have met great friends who won't stop FaceTiming just for quality time. Some just want to hang out while drawing/reading/cleaning/whatever mundane tasks that needs to be done. Which has created a strong bond where we've shared intimate stories about our lives and plan on meeting up once it's safe to travel between countries.

We're all somewhat deprived of human interactions due to lockdown and Covid around the world, but because of how humans are quite the social beings, life finds a way. We. just need to be open to the possibility."

16. "Leading with heart and not being afraid to be vulnerable has expanded my capacity to be a friend."

17. "I had just relocated to Wilmington, DE from LA for work and I was seeing a man who also worked for the same company. I didn't know anyone really; I'm friendly and I would go out after work for drinks or happy hours or activities, what have you. Then, one evening, about maybe 6-7 months in, I was working late and so was another coworker who I really liked, but we hadn't really hung out ourselves. We were friendly, you know? Got along real well, but never took that "next step." I swear, it's like I'm writing a romance story. But a 'frie-mance!' So we're both closing that evening and I pinged her via Office Communicator and just asked, 'Do you want to have dinner/drinks one night?' And she responded immediately with 'YES.' So a few nights later, we had sushi together and she brought me Dunkin Donuts that snowy Saturday morning when I had an opening shift.

Up until September last year when I moved back west for family, we were almost inseparable. Eight plus years and counting. It was part of my wedding thank you speech: 'Jesse — oh my god, Jess, who knew a sushi date and a Dunkin' Donuts Saturday delivery would turn into this? The ying to my yang, as the Great Hair Debacle of Mexico unfolded showed. Thank you for your support, because without you, I would've had half the vision.'

Just like dating — I took a chance and put myself out there to her for her to accept or decline my invite. And here we are!"

Agolde tank top // Misha Nonoo button up // Levis jeans

Photography by Arnaud Montagard, featuring my dear friend Igee Okafor