Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ode to a Friend

I'm mourning today. I learned this morning of the sudden death over the weekend of my friend Molly. Molly and I never actually met. But the memories of her that flood my thoughts today, and the sorrow I feel, make it plain to me that she was indeed a true friend.

We met on Twitter, early in my career there. It's easy to dismiss social media as frivolous and shallow. I have often done so myself with respect to the great majority of the tweets I read. But it turns out that a genuine connection made via Twitter is as real and wholehearted as one made anywhere else. A connection is a connection is a connection, I guess.

Molly and I started with each other's tweets, moved on to include each other's work, and emailed occasionally as well. We shared a lot of interests: books, photography, the foibles of US, UK and Italian politics, feminism, the scenery and history of the Western United States. Her comments, unfailingly kind and supportive, are sprinkled throughout my travel posts and photos.

We knew the bare outlines of each other's lives - husbands, kids, backgrounds - but only as they came up in conversation. And what a conversation it was. Molly was old enough and sharp enough to have no qualms about voicing her strong opinions on a wide variety of subjects; conversing with her was alternately hilarious, touching, profound and validating, and it was always fun. For three years, we exchanged ideas, opinions, befuddlement, poignancy and even a recipe or two over Twitter, sometimes daily for weeks on end, other times sporadically. Nothing made me happier than to open Tweetdeck and see she was "in the room."

Molly was a writer, as am I, so perhaps it's not surprising that we formed a true connection via written words. It's interesting to recollect that we never actually spoke because I know her voice well. Her turns of phrase, the smatterings of Italian and French interspersed in our tweets, the personality that was so evident in her intelligent, articulate writing all accumulated into a voice I could hear. I can hear it as I write these words. And although Molly herself is no longer here, I think I will hear it for a long, long time to come.