How to Be a Best Friend

Vivian McInerny
5 min readApr 1, 2022

Friends make friends make snow angels

Image of Diane by Vivian McInerny

We met up in the hotel lobby.

“Oh no! I left my mask in the car,” she said with a frenetic but fun urgency I always associated with her.

We hugged anyway. It wasn’t much of a risk, both of us triple-vaccinated. She couldn’t see the grin beneath my mask. But she beamed like a spotlight.

Diane and I were best friends in high school but hadn’t seen each other often since. I left Minneapolis weeks after graduation. She stayed in the area and worked at a furniture store, helping people turn houses into homes with her eye for design. Before the days of social media, it took more effort to remain in touch. We were both bad at it.

“Where should we go,” she asked excitedly, as though we might suddenly decide on a spontaneous trip to Tahiti.

“The mall?”

She laughed. Diane laughed a lot.

She always struck me as electric, a sparking live wire that might, on occasion, give you a sharp shock which you probably deserved.

It had been years since either of us had been inside the cathedral of consumerism that was the Mall of America but its temperate climate in January in Minnesota was as tempting as forbidden fruit.

We bit.

I don’t remember what we saw in shop windows, or what we ate for lunch, only that we talked. A lot. We talked about friends, family, faith — or lack thereof — joys and worries, you know, life and other stuff. I’d lived overseas for three-plus years, married, had two kids, and a job in journalism. Diane remained single, had no kids, nurtured several rescue animals, and absolutely adored her older brother’s in-laws who, she said, welcomed her and her entire family into their fold. She was so genuinely happy in life.

When the day warmed up, we drove nearby to a spot on the Minnesota River. So many of my childhood winter memories are of feeling miserably cold. Once I suffered frostbite ice-skating in too-thin socks and for years afterward every time my feet got cold, my toes burned and blistered. I told Diane I’d almost forgotten winter could be beautiful. The trees cradled blankets of white in their bare branches. In the shadows of the woods, the snow took on a bluish…

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Vivian McInerny

Career journalist, essayist, fiction writer, and life-long spirit-quester.