A book event is NOT a test of friendship.

I’ve moved a few times in my adult life, and each time I’ve been pretty peaceful about it. I don’t feel like I need to be physically with people for them to be part of my life. What has surprised me, however, is that the list of people I keep most in touch with doesn’t correlate with the list of people I felt closest to when we lived in the same town. This is what I expected:

People I like best/knew best in person == People I keep most in touch with

But that’s not what happend. What actually happened seemed random, until I realized the situation could be expressed like this:

People who are good at long distance communication == People I keep most in touch with

Seems obvious, right? But, emotionally, it can be hard to accept. The fact is: someone’s affection for you may not correlate with their ability to maintain that affection at a distance. And, someone’s excellent ability to maintain long-distance communication may surprise you by turning them into a closer friend than they used to be.

This applies to books too.

A lot of people I know have stepped up to help with my book promotion. It’s tempting to view the situation like this:

People who love me most == people who do the most for my book.

But thinking about things like that is the way madness lies. Try this instead:

People who are great at organizing events and have a circle of friends who love reading and/or are impressed with authorship == the friends who offer to create events/throw parties/bring hordes to my bookstore events

See? What someone does for my book and for me as an author is NOT a test of friendship. Sometimes the people who have arranged the most for my book tour have been the ones I expected, and sometimes I’ve been surprised by who steps up. Some of my friends who personally care about me very much have not come forward to offer practical support, because they haven’t had it to give. That doesn’t mean they don’t care about me. It means their care is expressed in other ways.

A few years ago I hosted a 40th party for a friend. It was at a restaurant in San Francisco, and the guests were all coming up from the suburbs. Traffic and public transport are unpredictable at the best of times, and this crowd was usually late to things anyway. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the start time passed and no one had arrived yet. I nervously promised my friend that people were indeed coming. She was unruffled. She said, “I know who my friends are. When or whether people show up to this party doesn’t change that.” What confidence and serenity! At that moment I aspired to know myself and trust my own friends so well.

FYI: It was a great party.

Have any good stories about casual friends who have really gone all out for you? Or about close friends who may have let you down in one way, but are still good friends?