Why I Love Ariel Levy

Okay, one more post and I need to leave this infernal machine. I had to run a search for Ariel Levy, and I found an essay from yet another unfamiliar magazine, The Out Traveler, in which Levy describes her relationship with her best friend, and a trip they took together in Southeast Asia after Levy broke up with her first girlfriend.

Once, in college, we came back from a weekend away together and then stayed up all night talking and smoking cigarettes in Emma’s kitchen. Her roommate came out at one point and looked at us, baffled: “You still have more to say?” It remains like that with us. That’s the best thing to have on a trip through Laos — or life, I think: someone who sees the same thing when they look at the world, in all its sadness and magic.

It occurs to me that I’ve been very fortunate in this regard. I’m in Washington for the first weekend in a while because three good friends — who don’t know each other, interestingly — all converged. One of them is my best friend from high school and college (I was, I’m honored to say, his best man), another is a somewhat newer yet very close friend (we were introduced via another post-college friend, who I consider a co-conspirator and role model) who is Ariel Levy-like in her combination of smarts and toughness, and the third is someone I think of as a “brain friend.” Each time I’ve seen them over the past couple of days, I’ve found the conversations spiraling, going on much longer than I expected. The second friend introduced me to a foreign crony who happens to be a writer I’ve admired for ages, and we spent many hours talking about South Carolina, people we hate, and bosoms. It was very edifying. So I suppose I’m on a high, though I’m feeling a little tired.

Friendship is the organizing principle of my life, and I’m frankly a little nervous as my cohort ages, and finds other possibly profounder — yet invariably less fun — obligations and preoccupations. I have a few friends who are as important to me as Ariel’s comrade is to her, and, in somber moments, I think about (this is embarrassing) the short book I’d write for them in light of some grisly accident leading to untimely demise, a book I’d of course keep to myself. It’s a strange and somewhat dark way to think, I realize, and I suppose it says something about the way I mediate (overmediate?) my experiences.