Unconventional Friendships

My best friend Gina has been my rock for four years. She’s comforted me during family tragedies, sent me jokes and puns over email when I was traveling abroad and we couldn’t talk regularly, and screamed into my voicemail when she got my birthday present in the mail.

Gina’s been there for me through the good and the bad, through the (many!) existential crises, through my moments of stupidity. She’s talked me out of dumb decisions and listened patiently to my “brilliant” ideas (like starting my own clothing line, even though I’ve never so much as touched a sewing machine).

There’s just one thing about our friendship that’s a little out of the ordinary: we met online.

Despite the internet-crazed world we live in, it seems like there’s still a stigma to online friendships. Even I wasn’t totally comfortable with the idea of talking to someone I’d never met face-to-face. I didn’t tell her my last name until I added her on Facebook. I debated for hours whether it was a good idea to give her my phone number. For the first year or two that I knew Gina, I told my parents she was a friend from high school who had moved out of the state for college.

Nevertheless, I liked talking to her. We met through blogs that we both had back then, where I spent most of my time getting overemotional about television shows and procrastinating on studying by complaining about the amount of studying I had to do. Gina and I were going through similar things at the time: both second guessing our majors, both trying to grow up when we still felt like children, both having regular moments of dread when we thought about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives.

Our friendship started at the perfect time.

At 18, I had a hard time making friends. While I hadn’t left the state for college, I’d chosen a school four hours away from home in a town where I knew nobody. I was painfully shy, to the point where I blanched at the idea of joining campus organizations because I’d have to talk to strangers. But then Gina came barreling into my life, matter-of-factly told me that “we’re going to be friends now”, and I had no response but “um, okay”.

She’s pushed me out of my comfort zone. She’s encouraged me to do things that I would’ve otherwise talked myself out of. Even after I found a close group of friends at school, I still found myself reaching out to Gina first when something big happened in my life. It was almost easier, talking to someone halfway across the country. I could tell her all about the embarrassing things I had done that day without seeing judgment (although I’m sure she side-eyed her phone when she got that text about me twisting my ankle while dancing in my room a little too enthusiastically). I could ask for advice on what to do about arguments with friends without worrying that she’d tell the other friend what I’d said. When I began thinking about moving to California after college and all my other friends expressed dismay at me leaving, Gina simply asked, “Well, is it what you want to do?”

Despite the fact that we’re still states away from each other, Gina knows me better than anyone.

I still scroll to her name in my phone first when something major happens. She still texts me when she’s panicking about job interviews. Even though we’ve long since deleted those original (and embarrassing) blogs, we’re still connected.

And hey, who knows where life will take us? Maybe in five years, I won’t have to call or text or email to talk to her. Maybe I’ll just be able to walk five minutes down the street and burst through her door, saying “You’ll never believe what happened to me today!”

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