I have no friends. It’s true. I have office colleagues with whom I might grab a beer after work; casual acquaintances at the gym with whom I can discuss the weather or news headlines; a brother I love who cares deeply about me; and former professors who continue to mentor me years after graduating. But, truth is, I am alone.
As a youth, I had the usual cadre of classmates I knew simply because we had attended every grade together since kindergarten, but we seldom interacted outside of school. The universally acknowledged “smart kid” of my year, I was known by all and befriended by none. I was not particularly nerdy or aloof; I just spent most of my leisure time reading and writing in my bedroom. Getting wasted at a Friday night party simply didn’t appeal to me as much as lying on my bed with a box of Goldfish crackers and a new book or journal. There was one boy my age who would come over to my house. His name was Travis, and he was the only kid in school whose vocabulary rivaled mine. We became bibliophile buddies and would quiz each other on collective nouns (a group of ravens is called…?), yet I always kept a part of myself distant, as though I feared giving another person full knowledge of who I am, lest they dislike what they learn. Travis and I attended separate colleges and grew apart. We still stay in touch to this day, but our meetings are rare, as we live 2000 miles apart and both lead busy lives. Since Travis, I have made only one other friend: Stephanie. We were roommates in graduate school and became extremely close. Earlier this year, she died.
As I write this journal entry, I wonder if I am unique in this solitude or if others struggle to make and to retain friends. What is a friend, after all? How do friendships form, and how do they endure? I think I’m a friendly-enough person. I am kind, lighthearted, and dependable. Wherever I go, I quickly accrue workplace relationships and professional network connections. But, when the week is over and the quiet of late Friday night arrives, I am alone.