Last weekend, a dear friend of mine from college came to visit for Thanksgiving. B, who is a 35 year old gay man, is the kind of friend you talk to once every couple of months – but when you talk, you talk. You always pick right back up where you left off, and in a matter of minutes you’re knee-deep in an intense, existential conversation about the Mormon Church. What, you don’t talk endlessly about Mormonism? You’re weird.
With this person, you can’t help but agree on everything, because your reasoning, the way you make sense of the world, is the same. You develop righteous anger over the same offences. You think the same people are idiots. Maybe your individual life stories even mirror each other (B and I have 15 siblings between us. And we both left the Church because our sexuality didn’t exactly match the Church’s standards and we knew we deserved to be happy anyway).
The very root of you is the same as theirs. You can feel it. It’s the kind of connection that makes you lifelong friends with the person you sat by on an airplane. It glues together people from the strangest walks of life; sometimes it’s so strong that it makes Democrats slip up and marry Republicans. And when you find someone like that, you just… know. (Also, you probably both find the idea of Kolob hilarious.)
So this person is then your… what? Best friend? Not necessarily. You could meet someone you intensely connect with, who’s visiting from out of country, and then never see them again. My own personal Best Friend Forever in the Whole Wide World is not B. And these people are often not your lovers, either. What do you call them?
Recently, a friend and I were discussing the idea of soul mates, and I doubted aloud that someone would just have one potential romantic soul mate. He agreed, but then said he felt like he’d also had soul mates who were just his friends. And the moment he said that, I realized he was right. I loved that idea. I could list my soul mates without hesitation:
There’s one where our mutual hangovers always force us to get stoned, snuggle each other, and talk quietly for hours until we have to stumble into the kitchen for food. There’s the friend forty years my senior, who recently admitted that a problem of mine stumped him and he’d be damned. There’s the one who died, and along with him the horseback rides in the majestic orange and flaming red fall leaves of Utah mountains. There’s the one who was the one who got away. There’s Lois.
I don’t know. I’ve thought about this a lot since then and the more I reflect on it, the more I believe it. Although the cynical, cold-hearted atheist part of me recognizes that all this soul mate sentimentality is probably just some self-constructed bullshit, the writer in me thinks that the idea of soul mate friends is pretty fucking cool.
If in closing I can quote Sister Emily Bronte (please read in General Authority voice):
“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
That’s how I feel about B. It was great to see you, my dear friend.
In the name of Jesus Christ,