I have a friend, her name is Lea. We’re really good friends, we discuss everything, and I’m forever quoting her. Here’s what Lea has to say on:

Love: I just saw this quote: “Grief is the price we pay for love” (Queen Elizabeth II). Like Bren? Brown says, you can’t selectively numb emotion. To experience true joy, one must also know pain. I keep reminding myself of that.

Society: So many drift along with the current, not realizing how nobody else wants to be there, either.

Life: My grandfather remembered the diphtheria epidemic that annihilated families. We take life for granted. It’s amazing how much has changed in so little time, going from “Everybody’s dead” to “Everybody’s alive.”

Beauty: I never heard of silver not working on anyone. Application is everything! I stick to matte grays, as my mommy raised me to.

Organized Sports: You’re using terms like defense and offense, so I’m lost. Look, the guy hit the ball! Whoo!

Technology: I should have apps but my phone is just a stupid paperweight.

Shidduchim: People really give quasi-shadchanim these doctor/G-d-like powers. My cousin was saying when her daughter was in high school, “Of course I’m going to take her to a shadchan!” Like going to the dermatologist. “A” shadchan. ’Cause they are miracle workers. Isn’t that putting faith a little too hysterically in man?

She’s fantastic, no? Want to know the secret of our friendship?

We’ve never met.

I’ve never even spoken to her on the phone. I tell people I have an epistolary relationship, fancy word for a pen pal. We e-mail all the time. Each e-mail averages 1,000 words.

We first connected over seven years ago. I had a blog, she took issue with something I wrote (shocking, I know) and well, as they say, the rest is history. Of course, we played extensive Jewish geography, made sure we both really exist, and weren’t some creepy middle-aged men typing on old computers in their mothers’ basements.

Her cousin and my mother were childhood friends in the bungalow colony. She dated my second cousin, her brother-in-law davens in the same shul as my uncle, her parents daven in my husband’s friend’s wife’s father’s shul. A classmate of hers married the first guy I dated. We share circles, many circles, as does anyone who grew up in New York and attended New York institutions and are two years apart in age, but we unconsciously never let the circles overlap too much.

I got married a few months into our correspondence. Lea almost came, but her cousin’s bar mitzvah was in Lakewood that night and her aunt is the “don’t offend” type. And then we got to know each other, really know each other, and it was too late.

There’s a certain honesty, a candidness when you haven’t met someone. Almost like telling your story to a stranger on a plane. There’s some distance, room to suspend judgment. And we’ve come to care and respect each other so much, we don’t want to ruin it with something as petty as real life. Thirty years on, we joke, we’ll have our own “After Thirty Years.” Thank you, O. Henry. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 543)