Mr. Magpie and I had an interesting conversation the other day about the fact that many of our closest friends share something in common — but we couldn’t put a name to what that “something” was. We kept dancing around it, throwing out nouns that proved, on closer inspection, either adjacent or partial: curiosity, earnestness, passion, creativity, intellectual confidence, down-to-earthness, sensitivity to others, civility. Writing them out, I see some interesting tensions in the list, but all of them are true, albeit incomplete, descriptors of our inner circle. When I think about our very best friends — the ones with whom we spend holidays, travel, and eagerly plan dinners and adventures — they are the kinds who arrive in good spirits and optimism, and gamely engage in unwieldy conversations that travel from the trivial to the heartbreaking. We have one set of friends who refer to our convenings, semi-ironically (in the sense that the term is far too high-falutin’ for what these conversations are), as “salons” and often come prepared with nuanced topics to discuss. I could not have loved my girlfriend more than when she cleared her throat after dinner and said: “I have a salon subject to discuss,” and proceeded to recount the ins and outs of an article on children who had gotten tattoos at young ages with parental consent. I do not want to invite conversation about that topic here, but my point is this: I treasure the free-flowing, earnest, nonjudgmental, deeply curious conversations I have with my dearest friends. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote: “To a great mind, nothing is little,” and these are the kinds of people who gamely dive in to any topic on offer, whether tattoos, traffic laws in New York City, or the role John Hughes played in shaping our understanding of family values. They are smart, yes, but it is more than raw intelligence: inquisitiveness is the common denominator. For example, one of my girlfriends (a serious lawyer!) has gone deep into a niche luxury resale subculture, and one of my other friends (a serious commercial real estate broker) found this so interesting, he started to watch some of the auction videos with her, entirely on her account. I loved bearing witness to this unlikely cross-pollination. I enjoy surrounding myself with people who tinker, who ask questions, who want to know how things are made, who see a flame in someone else and are drawn to it.
I recently read a transcript of a fascinating interview between Leslie Stephens and jewelry designer Betsy Cross in which Stephens shared:
“When I competed on my high school’s ski team, my coach would say “Don’t shop for turns,” meaning don’t be picky and wait for a perfect turn in moguls—just take the turn. That phrase often comes to mind when I’m reading magazines or the Sunday New York Times, flipping through it for articles of interest. Often, when I read a section cover-to-cover, rather than “shopping for turns” or cherry-picking the articles I know will interest me, I come across unexpectedly interesting stories that open a new door for me, whether that leads to a story idea or simply a tangent of personal research I’ll use down the line.”
She later adds: “Doing things that are not directly related to your primary creative pursuits may feel “unproductive,” but may act as flint. Liz Gilbert writes about a season when she was going through writers’ block, so turned her curiosity toward tending her garden. She began to research her plants as a hobby, which evolved into her novel The Signature of All Things.“
It’s funny, now that I think about it, the way I consider my closest friends “great minds,” and how they in fact contradict the adage that “great minds think alike.” None of them think alike, and that’s what makes their company so stimulating.
I’m curious: do you feel that your friends share similar traits/values? What are they?
+On getting over a failed friendship. (I’m still not totally there.)
+On being yourself.
+This ric rac trim chambray dress is darling!
+Just ordered my son some of these monogrammed shorts. Perfect for his tennis camps this summer!
+These oval Celine sunglasses are SERIOUSLY trending.
+This crochet dress is in my cart. Under $120!
+And speaking of citrus, you need this candle. It smells so delightfully summery — perfect in a kitchen. 10% off with code MAGPIE10!
+Further speaking of citrus — everyone has a citrus press like this, right?! Couldn’t live without mine.
+OMG these earrings are SO fabulous! ($124!)
+Love these kick shorts for little girls. Great colors. Perfect for layering under little play dresses and tees!
+Food52 is offering 20% off sitewide (and 25% off orders over $200) with code SUMMER. All my favorite kitchen/dining picks from that site here.
+This Gucci scarf has the prettiest pattern.
+A fab striped tote.
+Hunter Bell nails it again! So good!
+This is my favorite notebook for lists. As a leftie, I deeply appreciate the spiral biding along the top.