Thursday, 25 November 2010

The "Other" Family

It seems that every fall I have the splendid opportunity to reconnect with old friends from university. Okay, well, maybe just the last two falls...and the fall before that was only my second fall out of university, so there was very little reconnection required. Alas, I like this new trend and hope that it continues into 2011.

The most rewarding aspect of these reconnections is that I am provided with the opportunity to reflect on a skill I finally mastered towards the end of university. Hmmm...well, the skill may not yet be mastered, but it was definitely acquired in university. This skill is invaluable to me, wherever I go from now, and probably something some people take for granted. I'm talking, of course, about the ability to create support networks out of complete strangers.

I remember how I met very few people in my life. The people that I do remember meeting, I will never forget because they have come to mean a lot to me. For instance, I remember the day I sat down beside Heidi in our Anthropology class. I had made it a rule to talk to at least one person in each of my classes in university, even if it made me uncomfortable to do so. To cope with this uncomfortability, I tried to pick people who appeared friendly and were not already talking to somebody else. (I've always been better at one-on-one conversations over group discussions, at least when talking is involved.) Heidi fit both of those traits, so I struck up a conversation with her.

I don't remember all of the details of that conversation, but it began a beautiful friendship. Our time in the same city was short-lived, but our friendship has proven anything but that. When she left, we both promised to keep in touch...but we both go months (or once even a year) without an email, wall post, or a good old-fashioned phone call. Regardless of our time apart, when we do reconnect, it's like no time has passed. Our friendship stands as an example that true friends know not distance nor time but one another. Or something else whimsical like that...

Reconnecting with Heidi last November started my annual tradition of uni-reunions. It was a remarkable reminder of the friendship's ability to remain the same without extensive work. This fall, with the big 2-5 approaching, I planned my trip a bit earlier, but it has continued for the last two months!

In September, I flew out to Vancouver for a mini-Honours get-together. I kept hearing about these get-togethers in Vancouver, and felt slightly left out. This one made up for it, though. I arrived on a Sunday, and that night we hit the town, SATC-style. Sushi was eaten, girly drinks were shared, four delectable desserts were devoured, and gossip was shared! Three years had passed since the four of us had been together, and everything seemed different. Everything that is, except our friendship!

Some friends have been besties since birth; some since kindergarten; even more from high school. I have wanted a best friend since birth, kindergarten, and even in high school. That was when I gave up on the idea of just one best friend. I have very high expectations of people, and one can only imagine that wanting something as badly as I wanted a best friend only increased the expectations I put on whoever was closest to being my best friend at any given time. Don't worry, I still cherish the good times we had together growing up, but I know that I never really understood what a best friend was until university. And then, suddenly, I created several of them. That's why i now relish the fact that I get to reunite with these people once a year!

I wish that I could explain to you how I did it. Just last night, I was watching The Big Bang Theory on DVD and came across the episode where Sheldon discovers the algorithm for creating a friendship. Not best friendship, but friendship. Now, if I could tell you how to do that, I would sell millions of books and how-to videos and be world-renowned, I'm sure. Sadly, that best frienship wouldn't be worth it. The beauty of best friendship, I've found, is that it's inexplicable and random. It's a little bit like true love. You can't plan it or manipulate the other person to get it; you just have to let it happen, and be satisfied with the results.

My ability to find best friends has not faded away. I continue to find people that allow me to be myself. These are people I can count on to be there for me when I need them. They have become my secondary family when my family isn't there (like uni or England), or a sounding board when I'm having difficulties with my biological family (although rare, it happens to everybody). And it makes me feel safe and secure knowing that I have the ability to create this kind of a support network wherever I go. Sometimes it can happen in a few days, like when I was travelling in Morocco; sometimes it takes a few years, like Edmonton. Eventually, though, I know, I'll have a support network all over the world...but then, I'll probably be strong enough on my own to not have to lean on anybody (NOTE: sarcasm!)

My reunion d'automne 2010 continues. Just over a week ago, I saw two of the three friends I met up with in Vancouver. One was in Edmonton, visiting her bf and I stopped in on the other in Saskatoon, while I was visiting more family. Both visits were a necessary bookend to the personal growth that began on my trip to Vancouver. But that's a topic for another post... I'm just glad I have such great best friends to help me out when life seems just a little bit tougher than usual. Thanks to all of you! :-D

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