These days I tend to be on the cusp of meeting someone extraordinary. I’m not talking about romance, that’s a discourse that can take a back seat for the time being. I’m talking about friendship. At the beginning of 2014, sometime in the miserable depths of winter, I went to see a play by my friend Vanessa* called ‘Love and Other Fictions’. I remember one line just hanging in the air, tangible and real enough for me to grab hold of and turn over in my head.
‘Platonic fires burn just as bright’
This line struck a chord with me that night and I’ve been learning to improvise around it ever since. Being unattached has enabled me to love my friends more freely than ever before. I have more capacity, more time and more need. This year friends have become family and a safe space amongst the chaos. We go on adventures, we talk long into the night, we recite our favourite poems whilst lying on the carpet, we provide each other with the necessary 5 hugs a day for survival, we suprise, spoil and support each other. At points when I’ve felt overwhelmed by how absolutely brilliant my friends are, I often wondered how I could possibly meet any more, how I could keep up with everyone the way I would like to. Then another season arrives and my life is flooded with another load of excellent individuals, whose hearts and minds make my soul explode. I’ve realised that love is not exclusive but inclusive and once my heart was opened to the possibility that everyone I meet might be significant, I started to see love in a whole new light.
A platonic love, the kind that pulls at my heartstrings and is often too extravagant to express. The aches of distance soothed in soft pockets of handwritten letters, from the cobbled streets of Salzburg to the musty grandeur of the New York City Library. The assured Facebook message reply that lets you know that even if someone doesn’t want you at 3am, they still care and hold you in their hearts. The bleary eyed breakfasts, the post-party, post-dancing long walk home, rice cakes and peanut butter in the kitchen, spontaneous dinner parties, the hug that comes at just the right moment. My biggest mistake was trying to cure loneliness by falling in love. I cured loneliness by investing in the people that love me and make me better, the platonic fires that often burn brighter and longer than any whirlwind romance.