One hot summer afternoon when I was 15, I answered a phone call. It was a wrong number, but intended for someone I knew. That got me talking to the caller for a little longer and we ended up having a wonderful conversation.
It was the start of an intense friendship. He would call every day and we would talk for hours. He was smart and really, really funny. We talked about absolutely everything. I thought nothing of asking him things that I would be embarrassed to ask my real life friends. We shared secrets and confided in one another. We engaged in animated debates and freewheeling discussions on topics that ranged from profound to utterly banal.
And of course, it didn't hurt that his voice was deep and friendly, and that he possessed a delicious laugh that warmed my heart.
We talked every day for about 5 months. And then he went abroad, and I didn't hear from him again. We never met.
Knowing him was like having an imaginary best friend, only for real. And my life was certainly richer for having known him.
Now 13 years later, in a city where I have no real life friends, where life is sometimes terribly lonely, I find myself surrounded by real imaginary friends. A welcoming circle of friends I have never met, yet know so well.
The warm voices, the teasing laughter, the consoling pat are all imagined. But the friendship, the empathy, the concern - that's for real, I know.
For that, to all my real, imaginary blogging friends, I say thank you.