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Dec. 12, 2012
Laura Jayne Martin is a writer living in New York City. Her work has been featured on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, ...

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I found a picture of us on the internet and that is how I know that we are friends. Well, maybe that is an overstatement. Or maybe that is just a wish. The picture is how I know we really met and I didn’t just imagine it. The picture tells me I actually do know you, a real live person who does things.

The picture is from the day that we met. The day that we met was a night. It was one of those rare occasions when I was doing something. You were just there to watch your friend. You have a lot of friends. You have literally thousands of friends, maybe more. Your friends could easily reenact an epic period battle scene from any movie that is based on a graphic novel; they retain the appropriate numbers.

We definitely know each other. I am in the picture and you are in the picture and it’s pretty hard for people who don’t know each other to be that close to each other in a picture together. Unless they’re Christmas shopping or running a road race or protesting or it’s a natural disaster or at a concert or it’s a candid shot of any R train. There are a few other people in the picture. They all do things too.

I don’t know how these things work. The last time I made a friend was a while ago, a real friend anyway. On that topic, I am a human woman, not a wireless local area. I don’t want to be networked. The only thing I want to be linked into is your arm.

That’s what happened in the photo from the night when we first met, we linked arms. If I base everything on this image — we’re doing great. The picture makes it seem like we’re friends. I don’t think that we’re friends. How do you quantify a friendship? How many text messages must be exchanged? Is it once they’ve been to your home? Is it once you’ve gotten drunk together? What is the bright line test?

I thought that there was an attraction between some of the molecules of our organic compounds. Maybe we could use that to accomplish some kind of conversion from whatever we are now to B1F1F1? Then again, I’m terrible with chemistry. Just write the transformative formula on a piece of paper and pass it to me when no one else is looking. How can I get you to share a few small important things with me so we can form a covalent bond? They can be positive or negative. (There’s nothing like hating the same things to bring people together.)

You think relationships are difficult? Try friendships. Try courting someone in order to convince them to join you in some nameless, shapeless Platonic complication — forever. Convince an adult stranger that you are worth a healthy slice of their limited time and energy without the prize of sex or romance. This is what I’m trying to do here. Is it working?

There are some coy indications that you maybe want to be in some more photos with me. That you wouldn’t mind if people saw this jpeg and mistook us for friends. However, every canceled plan, industry conversation, or misinterpreted response distorts the image. Suddenly these pixels are cold and digital and I’m not sure what they represent because of these other things obscuring my perception. You are not the only one in the shadowy peripheral space between drinks and dinner. There are a few other fuzzy people on whom I’d like to rack my focus.

I know these things take time and you can’t force it. However, in my mind and on the internet we are already friends. I can picture it now. All I have to do is wait for it to develop. TC Mark

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