This weekend I visited my close friend Natasha in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our society often glorifies the nuclear family and romantic relationships so I want to share about this wonderful weekend filled with love and food and friendship. To provide background, Natasha and I met six years ago as coworkers at a scholarship office at our undergrad institution. We bonded right away over reading and writing and our shared Vietnamese ethnicity. While we always kept in touch after Natasha graduated one year before I did, our friendship intensified over the past year and a half or so, after some unfortunate incidents involving men as well as her political radicalization through Twitter. She created this iconic itinerary for our friendship weekend (drinking game: take a shot every time Thomas uses the word “iconic” or “stan” in this post):
Natasha and I ate a ton of food this weekend. Like, imagine all the over-disclosures I have committed on this blog, then visualize those disclosures as food – we ate that much food. She knows all the hip Asian restaurants in the area so we went to a ton of those. She also lives near – get ready for it – three Jeni’s Ice Creams stores, one of which exists within walking distance of her apartment. On Saturday we literally went to all three Jeni’s, though not in a row because we value our stomachs and do not wish for them to perish.
In addition to stanning the sheer glory of a Jeni’s Ice Creams crawl, I also stan how safe and supported Natasha makes me feel. She read A Little Life last week so we talked about trauma, including my trauma and how it affects my relationships. At one point she asked me how she can best support me and help me see that she cares about me which
contrasted so sharply with all the men I’ve ever been attracted to warmed my heart because she already does more than enough. Reflecting on this moment and this weekend reminds me how I have never felt like I needed or even really wanted a romantic partner because of the emotional intimacy I attain in friendships like these. Natasha and I talk about friendship, family, social justice, reading, writing, roasting mediocre men, and so much more. With her, I feel safe enough to eat a lot, in contrast to my early anorexic years with my family.
Speaking of roasting mediocre men, Natasha and I literally burned one of my most recent crush’s essays on a grill in the courtyard of her apartment. I wish the fire represented the burning of my feelings for this guy to a crisp. But I have accepted that while my emotions toward him may remain, I can still dance in the glorious flames of my amazing friendships with friends like Natasha, my contributions to making the world a more compassionate place, and my hobbies like reading and writing. Natasha has supported me every step of the way in my weird online thing with this guy and I appreciate her so much for it.
Earlier this year, I had to decide whether I would apply for one of the most prestigious fellowships in my field. I talked to several people and thought a lot about it. I decided not to apply, because I wanted to spend the time I would have spent drafting and rewriting essays on friends in ways like this, as well as on my own self and community care. While I love Natasha and will invest my whole self to ensure our friendship’s success, I have no clue what the future will bring. So I’m cherishing this connection right now, in this present moment, at 7:45pm on a Sunday night in late October, with this post about our iconic friendship weekend.
How do you all maintain friendships in your life? What value do you give friendships? How did I get so lucky to be blessed by the iconic friends I have in my life? Would love to read your thoughts and until next time.