This is the second in our Bright Lights series: stories that highlight moments of human connection in a time where they seem few and far between.
As I interview Alden and Kyra, it’s hard to get a word in edgewise. They speak animatedly and enthusiastically, pausing only for moments of doubled-over laughter, each rushing to tell me the story. They’re sitting (in lawn chairs, six feet apart) in Kyra’s backyard in the Easy Bay. This has become a common pastime for them since quarantine began. As I watch their ease and comfort with each other, it’s hard to believe they were strangers last year.
Kyra: The Marriage Pact results came out and everyone was freaking out. I got the email and it said “Alden.” At first I didn’t know what gender Alden was, because I’d never heard that name. So I was like “hm, I don’t know.” Then I suddenly got this Instagram follow request and I was like, “It’s a girl, cool! Women! Yes!”
Alden: Gender reveal! Pink balloons and everything.
Kyra: So then, obviously, I was low-key looking through her entire Instagram, and I was like “oh my gosh, she went to my rival high school.” And pretty far back there was this one photo —
Alden: — Like, three or four years back…
Kyra: Okay, okay! Obviously it was really far back! So there was this photo of her in the mountains, and the caption was this line from a song by Joni Mitchell called “Little Green.” I love that song, and I don’t know that many people who know it. That’s when I was like “Yeah, we’re gonna be really good friends.”
They argue for a while about who sent the first message. Then, scrolling back through a copious number of baby videos and cat pics, Kyra pulls up the IG receipts.
Kyra: Okay so I go “Heyo — I don’t know what to say that won’t sound super awkward, but you look extremely cool!”
They laugh hard at the memory.
Alden: And I said, “You look extremely cool too. Coffee sometime? Or a picnic? Or something else?” And she goes “Picnic! Heck yes!” So I said “Week 10 maybe?” and she said, “Awesome!”
Kyra: Then we had this whole saga of trying to go to Cantor, but it was closed, and then we tried to have a picnic, but it was raining, but then we decided to have a picnic anyways, but then the grass was wet —
Alden: Wait wait wait! Slow down! Okay, I wanted to do a picnic, but it rained, so my idea was Main Quad so we could do it on the concrete. I was like, this is gonna be the best frickin’ picnic she’s ever seen, because I better make a good impression. I packed up a big, big bag, put fuzzy blankets in it, a thermos of hot chocolate, pop tarts, apple sauce, and water color and friendship bracelet supplies (for in case it got awkward). I thought we’d talk for like an hour, but we ended up talking for three or four hours until it got dark out. This couple with these two dogs came up to us (because we were looking really cute, obviously) and these two little dogs came and sat in each of our laps, and I was like, oh my god.
We talked about everything — it was really crazy. We talked about our life philosophies and the death of our grandparents and our dreams for the future. The only reason we eventually went home was because we had to pee so bad.
After that first meeting, Kyra and Alden started hanging out more and more. They tell me about late nights at the library, and a capella shows, and many afternoons spent in Kyra’s backyard.
Kyra: We started studying together, so we saw each other all the time. And on my birthday in February, I woke up to go to class, and walked out onto the outside staircase…and she had come at like 6 AM and drawn this giant chalk “HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYRA” on the ground outside my dorm. She’s just really amazing! This summer she just comes and sits in my yard and we hang out socially distanced all the time.
Although they’re not dating, Alden and Kyra have each found a best friend in the other. And a great story.
Alden: We’re best friends.
Kyra: I mean…I think we could still get married. We talk about getting married a lot!
Alden: We do. And I don’t even want to call it a joke, because I genuinely would like to marry you, like…in a platonic way. I just think we would be killer co-parents.
Kyra: Yeah obviously. Our kids would be the dopest.