Modern friendship

Jigsha is the first friend who I claimed as my own after moving back to Knoxville and ultimately breaking up with my then-boyfriend of five years. Crappy work schedules as they are, I had little opportunity to develop friendships with people who had no allegiance to my ex, but Jigsha’s schedule often mirrored my own, and we found ourselves hanging out quite a bit in late 2008/early 2009. Knowing my taste for silly ’80s dance music, she got me into hanging out at the neighborhood dive bar/dance hub that would ultimately serve as the breeding ground of my relationship with the Modern Love Machine.

Together, Jigsha and I have nurtured our desires to not just live life and grow but to Live Life and Grow. We talk of our dreams over tea and snacks, we outline our goals at the beginning of each year, we challenge each other to do the hard stuff and remind one another to be still and take it all in from time to time. By nature, she’s a hostess — always planning social gatherings and trying to introduce people she thinks would get along famously — and because of that she’s often the center of my social universe.

Jigsha stayed at the Modern Abode last night because her house was empty of furniture. She’s moving to Florida this week for a new job, an advancement in her career. In sharing the news on her Facebook page a few weeks back, she said, “My boss once told me, ‘Make ready come to you.’ Ready is here.”

It’s the very definition of bittersweet. To be thrilled for your friend who isn’t too scared of change to make a big one but absolutely devastated that one of your very dearest friends will no longer be a three-minute drive away or the center of your social universe. I’m proud of her for stepping outside her comfort zone but scared of what it means for my own comfort zone.

with Jigsha during one of the many festive birthday celebrations

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Even before Jigsha indicated she’d be leaving, I’d thought plenty about how our generation is far more transient than the generations that preceded and what impact that has on our friendships. Our grandparents tended to make roots where or close to where they grew up (well, I guess my grandfather’s involvement with the Air Force is an exception in that). My parents’ generation seemed to wander a bit for college but hardly wandered any further. My closest friends and I have been all over, and I’m not sure any of us are totally settled.

We have Facebook and e-mail and cheap cell phone plans and Twitter and blogs, all of which make it easy to keep track of one another. But the most fulfilling moments of friendship come not over a text message, but in time spent face-to-face. I can count on one hand the number of people in my life who I trust and love enough that I can say anything to without fear of judgment and with expectation of an honest reaction; they are my council. And by tomorrow, the only one of them who will live in the same city as I is my husband.

There are benefits to having friends spread out around the country. I always have interesting places to visit, and I don’t have to spring for a hotel room. The variety of their achievements and successes remind me to keep working at my own dreams and goals. And the random texts, e-mails and Facebook messages can be a turning point in an otherwise bad day.

The thing I wonder about is the long-term effect of it all. Are we all going to wake up one day and realize our chance at having deep-rooted communities is gone? Is our definition of community a much less physical one, and will that suffice as we age? Will we all be more open to new friendships as we grow older because of our smaller, less-rooted physical communities? What do you think?

I’ll ponder it some more on my flight to Florida later this summer.

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3 Responses to Modern friendship

  1. Lauren K says:

    What a lovely tribute to Jigsha!

    And as someone who’s moved recently, I certainly hope our chance at having deep-rooted communities isn’t gone :/

    • themoderngal says:

      To be fair, I don’t really believe your chance ever sails, I think it’s just tougher to make it work sometimes. Or you have to decide “community” means something different. My brain starts to hurt when I think about it too much 🙂

  2. Jigsha says:

    Aww, MG! You are such a wonderful writer. Thank you for such a public affirmation of our friendship.

    You have me thinking about communities and friendships now. When I left Zambia, all my close friends were scattered around the world. When I solidified friendships in Knoxville, I was ecstatic as I had finally developed closeness in a physicality again. Which is why deciding to leave was such a difficult choice.

    I agree that technology (and cheap travel) has enabled us to evolve the idea of community. So while we may not have frequent chai dates, we’ll still be involved and invested in each others lives. You can count on that.

    Love to you, MG!

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