I’ve known my friend Jessa for seven years. We’re in daily contact, and she knows all the secrets of my life: my shoplifting at age 8, how I cheated on my ex, and how I’m terrified to become a mother. I know about her bee phobia, her college bout with anorexia, and how she met her husband through Match.com but they tell people it was a blind date.
We were destined to connect – two different mutual friends tried to introduce us. The first time we were at a birthday party.
“You and Jessa have so much in common,” the host said. “Both writers – both ex-marketers for computer companies.”
We exchanged business cards, but nothing came of it. Several years later a different friend attempted to hook us up – describing a woman named Jessa, a writer and former hi tech marketer I simply had to meet.
The coincidence seemed meaningful, so I pulled out her old business card and emailed her – noting both friends we had in common, and how certain they were that our paths needed to cross. A friendship was struck immediately, and this time we stayed in touch.
We email each other about movies we’ve seen, houseguests that annoy, restaurants to die for, books we love, and struggles in our relationships.
Yet here’s the thing: we’ve only met in person three times. I moved away right after we made contact. We met live for the second time when I was back in town over the holidays and we had coffee. The third time was her wedding a few years ago.
When I went to greet her at the reception, it was a little awkward – someone I knew so intimately, yet had only seen twice in three years. I don’t even own a picture of her.
But even though we have no history of having gone to school together, or been co-workers, and even lacking a legacy of phone conversations, our connection is deep.
I check my email each day for an update on how her deck is coming, or if there was a line across the wand on the pregnancy test. My house hunting trials seem less overwhelming with the knowledge I can log on and vent to my friend, and that a sympathetic response will come quickly in return.
Maybe it’s about being able to put your thoughts together ahead of time like old-fashioned letter writing, rather than the continual interruptions of cell phones and waiters in our daily personal interaction. Knowing you can fully express your thoughts and feelings and that the friend on the other end will take the time to truly listen and respond in kind.
Whatever our friendship is based on – dropping out of hi tech to become writers, being childless and the same age, working from home, or simply a love of letter writing – I’m grateful for the comfort and reassurance offered by these messages from my email friend.
Reprinted from the anthology Simple Pleasures of Friendship: Celebrating the Ones We Love, available on Amazon