“This is the best date ever!” I said last night.
I said it to my friend J (my girlfriend J) as we walked around an international food market browsing red-bean-filled dessert snacks following a delicious dinner of Vietnamese food.
Back when I wrote about my Craigslist Missed Connection romance, J joked that I should really also write about our Missed Connection. Given that she did provide one of the best dates I’ve had in a while, and that we recently had a moment on the blog confessing that the women in our lives are far more important than the men, here I go.
J and I grew up about four blocks from each other in Brooklyn, but we didn’t become friends until I moved to New Mexico less than a year ago.
This is not like saying that we missed each other living on West 82nd and West 86th: the neighborhood we’re from is almost entirely Orthodox Jewish. I don’t think it’s controversial to note that this community, at least the one there, is not particularly friendly. They pretty much keep to themselves, save the occasional Saturday when they need a stove turned on. Recently, for the first time, my parents acquired a neighbor-friend who they call Gary the Jew–which is the kind of thing you can really only call someone if you’re Jewish, and even then it’s mildly offensive.
But I digress. Growing up, I had no connection to the neighborhood whatsoever: I commuted to Manhattan–to the downtown private schools where my mother worked and then the goliath public magnet in Battery Park where I went to high school. J attended nearby schools in Brooklyn, where most of her friends came from places with less observant Jewish populations, like Park Slope.
We met for the first time–though I’m not sure J remembers–during college: she was in school with one of my best friends from HS and the three of us caught a movie together. A year ago, when I was deciding between MFA programs and planned a visit out here, said mutual friend suggested that I hang out with J–who by then had been living in ABQ for a few years.
Basically, as we like to tell people, we became instant, long-lost sisters. It helps that we look alike –aka both have coarse dark hair and prominent noses–and enjoy eating copious amounts of ethnic food. But more than that it helps that we understand exactly where each other comes from.
Which I think is interesting, because when you read about those studies predicting which marriages work and which don’t, one of the biggest factors always seems to be a similar background: if you’ve got one, you’re more likely to stay together.
This makes a lot of sense. It’s hard enough to understand another person when you do have the same religious and social and economic experience–when you don’t, it’s that much harder.
But it’s also kind of depressing: most of us would probably like to think that love transcends such superficial categories. And of course, it can. It just takes more work.
I feel nothing but lucky, though, that J and I finally found each other. We frequently lament the fact that we missed each other as kids, but our lives have paralleled one another’s in so many ways that what we lack in shared experience we make up for in shared history: I feel as comfortable with her as I do with friends I’ve known for years.
Which is all to say that you don’t always need Craiglist to reconnect with people who you miss the first time around: sometimes you just need two thousand miles and about twenty-five years.