Perhaps part of our challenge in thinking expansively about our friendships is that we're limited by the word friend. Like community, the word friends has come to be so broad as to have lost meaning. We can have thousands of "friends" on social media, including people we have never met and make no effort to know. Friend can describe a work aquaintance whose personal life you know nothing about otna close intimate with whom you share history and your realist self.

There are beautiful words in languages other than English that get at some of the richness and variety of friendship, like the Gaelic phrase anam cara, which literally translates as "soul friend"; or the Aramaic havruta, which means "friend" and , depending on your brand of Judaism, can mean a person with whom you study the Torah or someone with whom you can engage in education; or the Japanese nakama, which can mean "buddy" or "people who you can trust in all things." And then there is the Black American practice of applying familiar words to friends who are like family, like auntie or brother. Knowing that there are other words supports my ability to see the possibilities that were previously obscured to me even if I never use them.