In September 2010, I was three weeks into living in the city in a terrifying first-floor shoebox on the Upper East, where I could barely fit a full bed into my room and my neighbors across the way liked to walk naked in front of the window I could see from my bedroom. The only person I knew in Manhattan at that time was my brother, and I was feeling particularly lonely that Friday night after deciding to stay at home, stealing WiFi from a stranger, trying to contemplate what I’d gotten myself into. While surfing Facebook, I noticed a post from a girl I sort-of knew in college – we were in the same sorority and I knew her boyfriend pretty well, but we’d never really been friends per se. The post mentioned New York, and a quick glance at her profile told me she was somewhat new to the Big Apple as well. In a totally out-of-character courageous move, I decided to send my kind-of acquaintance a quick message to see if she’d want to grab dinner or drinks one night that next week.
My lovely friend M and I met at Balthazar because she’d been dying to try the truffle fries after they were featured on Food Network as one of the best in the city. We nervously chatted while waiting for our table to be ready and then sat down and ordered a bottle of wine, a Beaujolais if I remember correctly. The remaining details of the rest of that night have faded after almost four years, but I’ll always look back and remember two very important details: the look we gave each other when we finished the first bottle of wine, because we both wanted another but didn’t know how the other would react (as it turns out, relief and surprise and a lot of laughs); and how I somehow knew walking out of the restaurant that night that I’d found my best friend. It wasn’t that we discussed anything particularly important, or that we were both desperate for an NYC best friend (… although maybe we were), but there was something in the easy way we joked around and how very personal we were with each other from the get-go that assured me this was someone I would have in my life for a very, very long time.
Fast forward three years, and I’m newly single in the city. The only person I know who isn’t in a relationship is my partner-in-crime R, who at the time was more of a mutual friend that M and I shared. She and I had fun together, don’t get me wrong, but we hadn’t ever spent time just the two of us. Desperate to go out with someone who wouldn’t judge my awkward newly-single social non-skills, I sent her a text one weeknight to plan a single ladies night for that weekend, which she enthusiastically accepted. We started the night in her then-apartment in Murray Hill, her little pooch running around the apartment as I played dress-up in her closet and we shared a bottle of wine (I’m sensing a pattern in my friendships…). We traveled down to the village for dinner at a tiny Italian place, and despite a super-rude patron saying evil things to me for no reason, we ended up shutting the restaurant down, talking, talking, talking the whole time. As we walked into Village Tavern later that night, I was drunk on a delicious combination of the high of a new friendship, the second-ever realization that this person was going to be in my life for a long time, and yes also the amount of wine we’d taken down in a relatively short period of time.
There are people that come into our lives slowly, making cameo appearances until they’re a regular guest until they’re a regular, getting to know each other over months and years, appreciating the languid slope of the friendship because it’s exactly what it needs to be. My fashionista C and I have known each other for years, but it’s only been in the past 18 months or so that I’ve realized how important she is in my life, which is to say, insurmountably so. My work buddy S and I practically couldn’t be friends for the first few months after we met, given I was her pseudo-manager; she’s now an integral part of my life. Sometimes you need the slow build, the getting-to-know you, before realizing how much someone means to you and how much you cherish their presence in your life.
But every once in a while you meet someone and right away it feels like you’ve known them forever. Conversation is easy, moving from things you have in common, to funny anecdotes about families, to hopes and dreams and more. And conversation never stops; it’s like a wild desire to know as much as possible and then more, an earnest interest in everything about the person within a few days of the initial introduction. Those moments are rare, a shooting star on a cloudy night, but when they happen you just know: there are people that you’re supposed to know and all it takes sometimes is to find them.