There are days, every now and then, when I wonder if this search is just silly. Why do I need a local BFF when I have so many wonderful best friends all around the country? Do zip codes and state lines make all that much of a difference?
And the answer is: YES.
I was reminded of this today. I spent the afternoon with one of my best friends from college who’s in town for only a few days. A couple of hours after we parted—each to our own separate dinner plans—we got on the phone and spent 20 minutes rehashing what had happened in the time since we saw each other. Much of that meant listening to my friend dwell over her lunch options for the next day and me explaining in detail what I ate for dinner.
It reminded me of my days in New York, when I would talk to some of my friends every day, or close to it. And we would talk about nothing in particular.
Here’s the thing about long-distance friend phone calls: They are exhausting. They involve so much catch-up and general life updates. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem reasonable to discuss the minutia of everyday life when you have so much “big stuff”—job, relationship, family—to catch up on. There’s a lot of “so what else is new?” and it doesn’t seem relevant to explain that you had planned to get mussels for dinner, but then the restaurant where you wanted to eat was closed so you ended up with broiled tilapia instead. Plus, the whole “what are you doing tomorrow?” conversation is a wash with a long-distance friend, since there’s no way you can meet up.
I’ve mentioned before the Ann Patchett essay in which she says “That’s my idea of real intimacy: It’s not the person who calls to say, ‘I’m having an affair’; it’s the friend who calls to say, ‘Why do I have four jars of pickles in my refrigerator?’”
I quote this often because it’s spot on. The truth is, for whatever reason, once a friendship spans states, pickles seem too unimportant a reason to call. Shouldn’t you be calling to ask about her wedding plans, or what she’s been up to the past week, or how her job search is going? This unimportant pickle detail is the kind of call you make to someone with whom you have nothing to catch up on. Someone to whom the only thing left to say is “where do these jars come from?!?”
So that, my friends, that is why I continue to search for my local BFF. Because that one 20-minute phone call was so satisfying, and while my long-distance friends are irreplaceable, they are no longer the folks to call about pickle abundance.