Through high school and college, I had a close-knit group of friends. I was rarely alone.

In college, I felt close to many but often sought a deeper friendship with my roommate, or the friend whose life, at the given semester, most intertwined with mine.

But this year, lacking a “person” meant something different. My apartment, strung with Christmas lights and candles, shared with a lovely woman I met online, suddenly felt cold and isolating.

Friends lived mere subway stops away, dispersed between neighborhoods. I’d see them every few weeks, enjoying the intimacy of reunion. But in the quiet moments, the rides from work, I became fixated on what I lacked.

My closest platonic friendships do not necessarily require physical proximity, intimacy or daily communication to keep us close. This unconditionality makes the way I share and confide in my closest friends different from my friendship with my boyfriend.

In the past three months, I faced two emergency surgeries. Both ejected me from the city and placed me on bed rest, immobile and isolated, for weeks.

Convinced I needed a “person,” I became irrational. I lost sight of my people. Yet they had not lost sight of me. Friendship, I learned, is an investment and a privilege but friendship can’t be quantified.
我确信我需要个“人”,我变得不可理喻,忽视了我的朋友们。然而, 他们并没有忽视我。我慢慢懂得,友谊是经营、是特权,但不能量化。

Like all relationships, friendships are about mutual exchange: Sharing parts of yourself, be it humor, memories, adventures, love or support, and receiving parts of others.

What shined through after my surgery wasn’t just love but the power of many individual bonds. One best friend was not by my side, but with each check-in came reminders of the parts of my heart that others carry, and the unique parts of them that I cherish.