The spring before I went off to college, I was on the phone with my best friend. She lived down the road from me, about half a mile away, and a storm was brewing over our neighborhood. There was all sorts of strange weather that year—a bright orange full moon over the lake; the largest and fastest snowflakes I'd ever seen, so that if you looked up it was as if you were moving through a vortex; the day the sky turned a bright green before opening up and pouring—but this wasn't that. It was just a thunderstorm.
A loud clap of thunder startled me, and I remember saying, "Did you hear that?" and she, of course, said she had. It was getting close to graduation, so I was feeling perhaps a bit melancholy that after seeing the same people for 13 years, there were some I would never see again. I had a thought that seemed like it would be fleeting, but it's been with me ever since: Will I ever be this close to anyone again?
I didn't just mean that close emotionally, to talk about this as deeply personal and as inconsequential as the weather at the exact moment it's happening. I meant that close in distance, so that we could hear the same clap of thunder from two different houses. That friend lives 150 miles away now and we never experience the same weather anymore. Many of my other friends live less than 5 miles away, and it's still hard to see them as often as I would like. It feels like there's such a distance between all of us now.
But yesterday, scanning through Instagram, I realized that maybe we're not really so far apart. Maybe we're all together, watching the same sunset.