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  • Collin McFadyen

Stars, Little Red Hearts, and Fire Emojis

In the middle of a conversation, sometimes my wife will interrupt me, frustrated, and say "I have no idea who you're talking about." and I'll have to explain;

"You know, my friend from writing class"

"my skateboarding buddy"

"my friends from the farmers market" "my pal from the bike shop" "my friend from the bank"

My circle of friends is more a constellation of stars, miles apart, with no expectations that they should ever come within a million miles of each other. I don't need to see or speak to them daily, or even monthly. I know they're out there behind the cloud cover of daily life.

Recently, I read an article that divided the contact between humans into two categories. "Heavy" contacts are best friends, family, longtimers that you share your life with on a regular basis. Back in the day, these were the people whose phone numbers you knew by heart.

"Light" contacts are people you see every once in a while, or never, but your interactions with them feel positive and friendly. Whether you see them on the street, or one day you just share a few texts, they feel like... friends.

I've been feeling a little off the past few months. For years, I've posted daily on the big three (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) but in the waning months of 2020 I slowed down... and mostly just started dropping a little red heart next to a friend's post, or leaving a fire emoji instead of a comment. My own posts? Aside from my writing-related things, I didn't really have anything interesting to post about.

Because face it, the pandemic can get boring as hell.

I'm lucky. My two best friends live within walking distance and I see them several times a week. I have a tight-knit crew of close friends that get together for bike rides and backyard happy hours. I love them all, but I need more. Something to take me beyond little red hearts and fire emojis.

The article stated that previously, "heavy" contacts had been scientifically accepted as more important to a person's well-being than"light"contacts, but recently, studies had shown that most people need the daily interactions with friendly acquaintances to keep us engaged in our lives, to keep things... interesting.

Can you see me over here, hand thrust high, yelling ME ME ME?

The problem is, in our own circle of heavies, we all have the same information, especially during Covid. Put it this way, none of us just got back from Japan, went to a Blazers game, can't stand their new coworker at the office, or even ate at a new restaurant where the food was crap but the waiter was super hot so they might go back.


I've decided to do my best to get my collection of light pals going again, the best I can in an online world. I've registered for a writing class at PCC, RSVP'd to a poetry workshop, and signed up for a five week skateboarding camp. I feel better already. I'm looking forward to introductions, breakout room conversations, trying to hit that 50/50 grind on the curb in front of my house, knowing that my virtual skateboarding pals are doing the same thing... but in Seattle.

I'm going to be pretty busy, but don't worry.

Andrea from writing class,

Dev from skateboarding,

Alicia and Sam from the farmers market,

Alex from the bike shop,

and Lelani from the bank

I've got time for you, too.


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