I’ve left behind friends from Germany, Italy, and Spain. I had been with them for a brief moment in time in our lives, which was cut short by the fact that we had to get on with the natural trajectory that our respective lives would take us.
I had met these friends while I was working and studying abroad, and it’s crazy to me how you can totally grow accustomed to having a routine with someone as a major part of your life in a certain place, and then all of a sudden go back to living life without them at all. When I was in Paris, I’d meet my German friend for coffee; we’d walk together to and from school, and we’d meet to talk about life, politics, our home cultures and family. Because he lived so close to me, we would always part ways on the end of my street. And then we were gone.
In the Netherlands, I met an Italian friend who cooked for me and literally took care of me in every sense of the word. We went to clubs, cafés, friends’ houses and restaurants together. We ate lunch together, grabbed coffee together and worked together. And that was our life. Until we both left the Netherlands.
Also in Paris, I had a really close friend from Spain who was like my sister, that’s how close we were. We reunited in Paris six years later and relived our previous study abroad experience by visiting our university, our homes and doing Parisian things like going to the bakery and walking down les Champs-Elysées. Then one day, we had to rush to the train station so fast so she could make her train back to Spain. Literally, as soon as she set foot in the door, her train took off. I couldn’t believe that in that one instant she was gone again. For Lord knows how long. Because I knew the odds were that I’d probably never see her again. For I was also going to make my way back to the United States until who knows when I could return again.
And that was our life. Together and then gone again.
It’s amazing to me that you can have such meaningful experiences with people for a moment in time that makes it feel like you’ve known them forever. And it’s amazing how those experiences get cut short by the fact that your time together must come to an end, and your regular life calls you to return to the routine that you had before you ever met.
Perhaps one day, we will visit each other. But even still, we will never go back to living the life that we used to have together.
And that is hard.
[Update: I did get to see my friend from Spain again when I went to Madrid in June 2017. When we both left Paris in 2003, I promised her I'd come visit her in her homeland, and welp, I did! Two reunions in 14 years? I'll take it!]