Platonic Love


A warm, soft, afternoon sunlight filtered through the blanket of budding spring leaves above our heads. Green ivy clung to the brick walls of the alcove patio, rustling in the soft breeze. The pavement was speckled with iron tables filled with a small handful of lunch patrons leisurely sipping their drinks and chatting quietly over sandwiches. Our table sat along the edge of the balcony overlooking the slowly flowing riverside. Meandering walkways lay below us, buffering both sides of the banks. The river’s edge was decorated with careful landscaping and precisely placed park benches. Wide, flat boats full of tourists, with their hats and their cameras, occasionally floated by, disappearing beyond the nearby bridge, pulled onward by the subtle, but persistent force of the bending current.

The two of us sat across from one another, our patio chairs angled towards the view of the river, our feet resting on the railing along the balcony’s edge. It was as if we were purposely isolating ourselves from the happenings of the restaurant bustling behind us. Our motives were apparent and effective, as we kept having to twist our torsos around to speak to the waiter, and after some time of frequent flybys and coffee refills, they allowed our body language to sink in as their visits slowed to a halt.

How long had we been seated here, now? One hour? No, three hours? We had lost track of time. Did it matter? No, not likely. Not on a sunny day like today. Not on a day where we both were so desperately in need of drinking in the other’s presence. Not on a day where we both found relief blossoming from bathing in the other’s words. Not on a day where we felt compelled to nourish our battered, exhausted souls with the other’s reflected vulnerabilities.

Those three hours, spent sitting in the sunshine, sharing so deeply with one another, those three hours were dripping in the thick, luscious salve of friendship. A pocket of safety, lined with plush, velvety softness so intimate that I fear I have experienced it far too little. The funny thing, of course, is that I can’t really recall all of the ins and outs of our full conversation that day now, but that doesn’t make me any less certain of the moment’s worth. I still feel a warmth growing in the middle of my chest when I think about it. My mind starts to buzz, and my whole body begins to sizzle at a low resonate frequency when I transport my heart back to that sunny patio.

It is astonishing how deeply life altering unearthing the platonic love of friendship can be. I often find friendship can be so difficult, especially, it seems, in the context of adulthood. Often the deepest platonic loves of our lives find themselves stretched miles apart, separated by distance, and obligations, and time. Moments together can feel so brief that the anxiety of departure can infiltrate a reunion before the living of it together even begins. Suddenly, up against the ticking clock of your time together, you find yourself focused on how little of that clock you actually have left – not on how long you may be able to stretch each minute together if only you could be fully present. If only you could quiet your anxiety and just be in each moment together. It is amazing how our minds can become so easily trained to work against our own self-interest.

But yet, there we were, beating the clock together on that quiet riverside. The worry of anxiety would come creeping in from time to time, only to be pushed back into its hole from whence it came. Conversations like these often mirror the experience of a deep meditation. The sharing with one another is like finding that quiet open expanse in your mind, and yes, other thoughts and worries often wander in, but as the meditation proceeds, eventually you’re able to brush those worries aside and clear space for your mind to expand again – over and over and over and over.

That afternoon we joked on several occasions together that we should have been recording ourselves, our conversation – certainly a selfish and misplaced urge. The worth of our love, of our friendship, does not reside in our words. No, the priceless value of our friendship resides in that great expanse, in that safe, soft place, in that warm feeling rising in our chests, in that buzzing underneath our skin, in that resonate frequency that only we can create – when we’re together.

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…those three hours were dripping in the thick, luscious salve of friendship. A pocket of safety, lined with plush, velvety softness so intimate that I fear I have experienced it far too little.

(Photo taken by Matt Korey, San Antonio, TX, March 2019. Image Description: Thomas walks forward into a colorfully decorated bar. He walks along a red brick floor carrying his blue backpack.)

Thomas Reeve