Dear Friend

I’ve been thinking of the transient nature of life. Almost since I was born, I have moved every four or so years. When people ask me “where I’m from” or what my “hometown” is, I laugh. And then, after apologizing for giggling, I take a deep breath and start ticking off the locations on my fingers: Born in Washington, moved to Texas, than Cheyenne Wyoming, then Maryland, college in California, and back up to Washington. “I guess I’ve come full circle,” I chuckle, even as I wonder when the circle will break and I’ll find myself elsewhere.

The longer I stay in one place, however, the closer I am to finding “home,” because the people I encounter during this time become very special friends.  These friends are special not because they are superior to others, but because they inevitably see more of my life and who I am.

These friendships start with shared interests (theatre, choir, school, career), which then extend into shared sympathies and humors. As time passes, I inevitably grow to have an understanding with these friends; an understanding of what is said in silence; an understanding of the words beneath the words; and an understanding of their hopes and fears… past, present, and future.

And it seems strange, at times, to realize that some of these friends of whom I am thinking, are people whom I rarely engage in conversation anymore, or even see.

I suppose the nature of adulthood is that we leave things behind. The myth of adulthood is that we ever do. When someone has truly touched your heart, in any way, it lingers; like a spray of water upon your skin, even after you’ve wiped it away.

We don’t shed people and places, we carry them with us; wrapping ourselves up in a quilt of memories; each thread a link to what was, each square a fragment of recollection. These memories are imperfect, idealized, but they comfort us, and strengthen us, so we cherish them, even when they start getting a bit tattered around the edges.

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful these connections are, and how some friendships continue to endure in spite of neglect. These people re-enter our lives in “very unusual ways” : an unsolicited letter of love when we are feeling utterly alone; spending time with someone after five years apart, and feeling like it was just yesterday that you said “see ya’ around”; the voice in your head, which offers counsel during times of trouble, taking on the tones of a childhood companion.

Instances like these make me reflect that although life is transient, and I myself am never destined to remain in one place for very long, everywhere I go is home so long as a friend is there.

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