Lesson 6: Friendship

A while ago my friend Mayen mentioned me in a tweet which read “it’s not always the amount of time you’ve known someone but the quality of time” and this got me thinking. It’s been a year since I started my travelling  adventure and 3 months since it finished. Now, I’ve never really stayed in touch with my friends from school or college. I guess when I left my hometown we just didn’t have anything in common anymore, and I’d rather have very few close friends than a multitude of not so close ones. 

And that’s exactly what I do have – very few close friends. However it recently occurred to me that all of these friends are people I’ve experienced new places with; travelled with; had adventures with. There’s something about finding yourself living in a log cabin, in a foreign country, with no mobile phone reception for 3 months that will bring you close to a person. As I said, I started my journey almost exactly a year ago when I met a perfect stranger at Heathrow Airport. All we really new about each other was that we were about to spend 3 months at an American summer camp together, we both had long term boyfriends, and we were both scared. I had been waiting for her at terminal 3 for over an hour when she arrived with her parents and boyfriend, she had red puffy eyes from crying and I had unknowly met someone with whom I was about to share the worst time and the best time of my life. We certainly had some ups and downs together: from nearly missing our flight to New York AND nearly missing our coach in Boston, to putting on a musical from the ground up in 10 days. For this reason she is one of my best friends, and I miss her. 

Most of my friends share the same passion for wanderlusting as I do. One of these is a particularly strong character from whom I learnt so much about myself and about trying new things. We became friends after finding ourselves outcasts amongst a staff of Americans, and after unsuccessfully trying to infiltrate the group we decided to give up. Instead we found comfort in each other, and became inseparable, like sisters. After mere weeks we knew each other inside out and I can’t imagine my life without her. She looked after me when we accidentally found ourselves at a hardcore trance rave in Boston, and when we couldn’t afford a hotel and ended up sleeping in a van at the top of a multi-storey car park with our crazy Polish friend. Experiences like this make for great friendships. There were tough, scary, miserable and heartbreaking times, but I would never give them up. That would mean giving up the crazy, phenomenal, perfect and life changing ones. 

Now that I’m home I find my closest friends are spread out across the planet, but somehow it feels like they are here with me. In Austraila I ended up working in a jewellery store and accidentally made a friend for life. I stumbled upon a version of myself 5 years ago and we bonded over this. I become like a big sister to her, and in return she held my hand when I had no one else. She woke me up at 2am for a 4 hour hike up a mountain, during which we narrowly escaped a wild snake and got attacked by leaches. When we finally reached the top we discovered that the sunset we were hoping to witness was hidden behind a thick layer of cloud. I had put on weight during my travels and was much less fit than her – she helped me every step of the way, even making all her friends wait for me when I thought I was gunna throw up from exhaustion. I pulled all my muscles and couldn’t walk for 2 days after, literally. But you know what, I’d do it again, because that day I found a person that I will always be able to rely on. I know that if I needed her, even though she lives on the other side of the planet, she’d be here.

Unquestionably the greatest adventures of my life have been with my best friend. A person without whom I would cease to exist, fact. During these adventures I found my personality, discovered my strengths, and tackled my weaknesses, and I put it all down to her. I met her at a time when I was extremely vulnerable, I was 18 and had just moved to London for uni – I knew no one. Then WHAM she exploded into my life. She took me to Latvia where we ended up severely sleep deprived having spent all night at the airport and being unable to sleep on the plane. However we had made arrangements to visit her family in the sticks. Being in Latvia was like being in a zombie apocalypse movie. We stepped off the train onto grass, no platform, no station, no roads! It literally dropped us off in the middle of nowhere and we were quickly losing daylight. We walked straight into the Twilight style forest and managed to find her relatives house. We spent the next 5 ish hours eating traditional Latvian cheese soup, listening to the native tongue as they didn’t speak English, and desperately trying to keep our eyes open. She once took a 23 hour coach and I a 7 hour train to met each other in NYC. We spent the last of our money getting a tattoo at nighttime from a very scary Russian lady whom my friend somehow managed to soften up, then we just walked. With no money and hardly any time we just walked around the city, taking in the atmosphere. I got my transfer to the airport at 3am with blisters on my feet and having only spent 2 days with my friend. It was worth it. She lives in Canada now and every second away from her breaks my heart. We have had countless adventures together, each one more rewarding than the last. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us. 

When you are thrust into difficult or different situations, you are given people to guide you through, people to change your life. I genuinely believe that. These experiences made me who I am today, and so did these friendships. Each one of the ladies I mentioned added to my life, and hopefully I added to theirs. Many other people touched my heart during my time abroad, and I have countless more stories to tell. I will save them for another time, so stay tuned. I don’t speak to the people I mentioned everyday, some of them not even once a month, but they are my true true friends. I wouldn’t change my time with any of them.

Lesson learnt:

As Mayen would say; it’s not always the amount of time you’ve known someone but the quality of time.

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