So many times I have spoken about friendship and its strong place in my life on this blog. So many times I have told you about my life-long friendships that started in preschool and I have kept till this day. However, I have never written about one of the most powerful friendships in my life. One which started in college at a class where we discussed literature and were pushed to think outside of the box.
I was always the participative girl who read all of the assigned materials and then some; but it wasn’t until I took this Critical Interpretation class, that I met someone who liked school as much as me. She was very smart, well-read, eloquent, the type of gal that you want to become friends with but you don’t know how to “ask her out”, so to speak.
The semester ended with us just nodding at each other and approving of our comments in class but we never actually connected elsewhere. That was until a few months later, she started an internship at the Study Abroad office where I worked most of my college years.
We became instant friends. We were (and still are) radically different and had completely opposite philosophical views but among the things we had in common, was this desire to make the world a better place. We both wanted (and still want) to travel places, to see the world and to soak everything in. In a way, she felt very much like the sister I never had. We could argue and discuss and get into heated arguments about politics around the world. At the same time, we could dress up and go enjoy some martinis at this cute local bar and have so much fun together.
She was there to witness how my husband and I fell in love and got engaged. I was there to send her off to the Peace Corps with her husband. Through the years she was far away, we kept in touch as much as we could. We wrote each other letters, emails, we spoke on Skype whenever she had the luxury of having Internet connection. We cared and loved each other so much that we didn’t want to admit that our daily realities had build a wall between our worlds.
When she came back from the Peace Corps we were in our mid-to-late twenties, both had been married for a couple of years and both with our own set of challenges to work through. I won’t share a lot from her side of the story because it isn’t mine to tell, but it should suffice for me to tell you that re-adapting into the American society after living in a small village for a couple of years was a huge undertaking that I didn’t understand at the time.
I was going through a very difficult period dealing with infertility, spending my months tracking down when I was supposed to ovulate and getting disappointing test results at the fertility clinic time and again. My husband and I were really devoted to starting a family. It seemed that all our thoughts were consumed by that. We were thrilled to welcome our friends back, but the truth is that we had lost something and we didn’t know how to connect, how to relate to each others’ struggles. Communication was rocky… we didn’t know what to tell each other or how to help each other anymore.
A few months later, after our awkward interactions, I finally got pregnant. My friend was there ready to celebrate with me, of course. However, the evening that we were supposed to get together for a special treat, I lost the baby. I was devastated. The communication barrier between us never more present than in that moment. None of us knew how to act, what to tell each other. And just like that, without having to say another clumsy word, we sort of broke up.
I would get pregnant and move on to have 2 children before I heard anything about her. Though we lived in the same city, we never ran into each other. We knew very few things about each others’ lives and then one day, when my second baby was just a few weeks old, I got a card from her in the mail. She congratulated us, (me) on the birth of our children and hoped that our paths would cross. If they had not done so in two years, our paths were not going to cross unless we made them cross. So I invited her to the city’s botanical gardens.
I had all intentions to talk to her about us, about our “break up”, about how her friendship (loosing it) was the worse break up I had ever lived and how it pained me every day not to have her in my life. We said nothing of the like, we kept things light. She was relocating in a few months. Why start the conversation now when she was happy and leaving soon?
Another year passed and I still thought about her. I knew about her from our friends in Facebook and the occasional friend in common that you run into. Nothing else. Yet her absence in my life pained me. We had been such close friends! I missed her and our conversations and our plans. So one day I just followed my impulses and first asked her to be her Facebook friend (I had deleted her after we stopped talking to each other). When she accepted my friend request I sent her a congratulatory message on her accomplishments and her exciting future plans I had learned about. She was cordial and polite in her response but nothing more.
I don’t know what drove me to continue my conversation with her but I finally gathered the courage to swallow my pride and tell her all what had consumed me for four years. I told her how much I missed her, how I hated how things had ended between us without a good-bye or an explanation. That I always thought that she would forever be a part of our “family” (the one we had made of the friends in the foreign county that we live in). That I wanted our friendship back.
She responded. We spoke on the phone. She told me how she saw things on her side of our communication barrier. I understood what she went through at the time. She heard me. We cried. We cried a lot and forgave each other and hated how both were so proud for so long. How much have we missed! All that time we could have had together, gone. We both were willing to try to connect again. To give it another try. Now at very different stages in our lives. Both happy, both in better places.
It’s been a little bit over a year now since we reconciled and I have to say that our friendship has never been stronger. I got to tell her in person about being pregnant with our third baby and asked her to be her godmother. She’s ever present in my life, despite the distance in between us and her adventures around the world. We are kindred spirits, we always knew it, and now we know not to ever let this special friendship between us go.