Friendship: Nothing in Common

We met by accident, then became forever bound

By Sloane Crosley
Friendship illustration
Photograph: Reinhard Hunger

For the first quarter of my life, I cheated. Though the act of keeping friends could be either effortless or hard work, the act of meeting them was always out of my hands. My friends were essentially delivered to me on a silver platter. There was grade school, camp, high school, college and even my first job. Those friendships were real, and many of them still exist, but I would never have met most of my closest female friends had they not been provided to me by an area code or a private institution.

     So there was something new and moderately magical about how I came to know one of my current closest friends. We met at a party in downtown Manhattan. We weren’t even introduced, which might have made things a bit easier. Instead, as the night wore down, we simply found ourselves sitting next to each other and struck up a conversation about books.

     By all rights, we should not be friends. She is all head, I am all heart. Her creativity moves in a linear fashion; mine is a splatter painting. She runs businesses, speaks Arabic, starts websites, calculates tips. All those activities are foreign to me. Aside from being brunettes of the same age, we couldn’t be more different. As a child, when she fought with her mother, she would win arguments by saying, “You’re being illogical.” When I was a child and wanted to win a fight, I’d draw a picture of a family of bunnies being cruel to the smallest bunny and present it to my mother.

     I liked her instantly. Despite operating in similar worlds and related in-dustries, we had virtually no friends in common; still, we decided to meet for drinks. Sufficient fun was had that we decided to make a habit of seeing each other. This was uncharted territory. I had never formally asked for another woman’s phone number. It was just like dating. In fact, before I made the essential discovery that she wasn’t a phone person, I’d nervously call her to chat and then toss the phone aside once we hung up, saying something like, “Well, that went well.”

     At one point I was convinced that the relationship just wasn’t meant to be. Did I really need another friend just because I had gone out and gotten her on my own? I figured it would be easier for me and preferable for her if I was more of a “networking” friend than a “real” friend, so I brought her a semi-interesting idea for a website. She listened patiently, smiled, bought me a glass of wine and said, “I thought we could maybe talk about anything else.”

     That was almost 10 years ago. Since then we have talked about everything else. We are at the top of each other’s lists for good news and bad, for both highbrow and lowbrow activities. I often forget that I didn’t go to college with her. She may not have come to me via an official institution, but what makes her special is that she herself has become the institution.

Sloane Crosleyis the author of the best-selling essay collections I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number.

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First Published October 25, 2011

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