"you never meet the same person twice, not even in the same person"
New York is unbearably pretty in fall. I’ve changed drastically in the gap between each yearly visit here. In college I used to take the $11 Megabus at 6am, crash on friends’ couches, spend all my money on museums. Years later, I feel far too indulgent. At Libertine we order warm bread, salted butter, duck confit. J and I walk to the end of the Hudson River pier and watch the ships. From there the city shimmers like a mirage.
Big cities are socially overwhelming. Too many people to meet in a dimly lit bar or a house party or a coffee shop. In the crowd I find myself looking for you sometimes. In another life I would’ve texted, but in this one I didn’t. We’ve moved in different directions.
I came to New York to visit 3 particular people this trip: H, A, and J. Some of my oldest and dearest friends. I’ve known H and A for 12 years and J for 7.
Like a spectator, I enjoy watching their lives unfold. New tattoos, brighter apartments, a changing cast of characters. I’ve seen them euphoric, calm, irritated, pensive. They’ve seen me. When I nearly got deported from the United States, when I started my first creative business, when I started writing for the first time. I think it’s valuable and magical to have so much context on a person. That knowledge is pure and hard to replicate.
On Thursday night, J and I sit at a little roadside bar in West Village. We order hot chocolate with whipped cream and a pot of mint tea and talk about what it takes to evolve together in relationships.
We agreed that some long term relationships grow distant when both parties aren’t quite sure what to talk about anymore. When the plane of understanding has shrunk. I find that profoundly sad. You lose shared context, and realize there’s nothing substantial left. The love is always there, like an invisible weight, but we can’t always get it back.writes in his latest piece that some pivotal relationships create mutual unfolding:
Some relationships are hard, or even impossible, to change. As an individual, you grow—but [said person] won’t acknowledge that change or adapt to it, and the relationship gets stuck. Other relationships are fluid and open-ended, they grow to fit you better and better the more time you invest in them, like an old house where you rearrange the walls, doors, and furniture until the light falls just right.
I try to live with that saying: you never meet the same person twice, not even in the same person. If we have that central belief, then a relationship with another person can never be taken for granted. It requires knowing some relationships will adapt with you. Others will take different trajectories at the intersection. That’s okay too, even if the truth of it breaks your heart.
David Whyte once wrote: the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement…The ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone.
You see me with stark clarity, and sometimes that keen perceptiveness terrifies me. But I’m grateful for it too. I’m flawed and imperfect. I advocate for high-effort. I hate the idea of settling for anything less. I’m impatient. I’m prone to nostalgia and romantic thinking. But deep down I’m a pragmatist. You know this already, of course.
I read this piece once that mentioned that when two people grow together, their roots get tangled. I think this is true of old, deep friendships. When I recall our conversations it’s clear all the ways in which you’ve irreversibly changed the way I think. You gave me a word or a song or an idea at an inflection point in my life. Now it’s deeply woven into the fabric. This flavor of exchange is a special kind of magic.
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PPS: Am thinking of doing another post on friendship, ‘new friends’
🎉Starting from Nix SF Meetup
A special input this week! I hosted my first newsletter meetup in San Francisco with 30+ people which was truly surreal and magical. Thank you for everyone who showed up with such open and creative energy. I will be hosting more meetups in the future, hopefully one on the East Coast (NYC) and one online. FYI — I post these closed (limited attendance) meetups via my subscriber chat in case you missed this one!
The meetup consisted of 2 parts, a journaling prompt session + a social component. Sharing some photos below
📚 The essay I cited above by Henrik is terrific:
📚 On writing by Elif Shafak
📚 Patricia has incredible taste in art and curates reading/paintings here:
In his book on friendship, John O’Donahue asks:
When was the last time you had a great conversation? A conversation that wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, but when you overheard yourself saying things you never knew you knew, that you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that found places within you that you thought you had lost, and the sense of an “eventive” conversation that brought the two of you into a different plane and then forthly, a conversation that continued to sing afterwards for weeks in your mind? Conversations like that are food and drink for the soul.
Via David Perell
I went to the Bon Entendeur NYC concert this week and needed to share a song as a result!