It's funny how sometimes the entire tenor of a friendship can abruptly change. I don't mean the emotionality of it but rather, I suppose, the functionality.
Erica and I became officemates back in July of 2005, but that's such a glib surface-y term to describe what almost immediately became a deep and abiding affection.
We developed a certain office rhythm, streamlined perhaps by the fact that our shifts usually overlapped by only an hour or two (our office is small for two, even two such as us).
We survived each other's odd flings (the guy who spent his days crisscrossing an upstate reservoir, arms flapping, curls flying, scaring birds off the water -- and getting paid for it!; the 23-year-old blonde with a penchant for good hummus and cheap wine), compromised morals, bitter breakups, several moves, winter days, and dead pets.
We became and remain neighbors, and have each other's keys (labeled simply, as if there need be no explanation, 1E and 6B).
We have given each other gifts (knitted things, bookish things, flowers, mini Maker's Marks, dark vegan chocolates, cupcakes) and shared birthday parties and writings and letters and many walks to the train and became known in some parts as 'The Girls." Well, at least to coworker Rong Li who so sweetly insists on giving us matched Christmas gifts -- rose soaps, silky scarves, huge bottles of peach-scented lotion.
We've spent years receiving each other's emails, our names apparently bordering on indistinguishable to fuzzy-headed academics and underpaid workers alike.
Now without this easy rhythm, the built in framework of being office-mates, the thread of her presence seems suddenly fragile. It's strange to have to suddenly think about something that came for so long without thought, without an awareness that things must be planned, that friendships must be nurtured.
We will of course survive these changes; have already begun to navigate the terrain of this new kind of friendship. It will be strange for awhile, but we are meeting this weekend for brunch and an exchange of CSA vegetables, and for now, for these days, this is enough.