You were the one that gave the beginning to all my other loves – do you know that? You were the first stranger, a new face, an unknown voice – to become a family member in my handmade, handpicked family of friendship and love. Step by step and month by month, after coming into my life when I was just beginning to grow up, feeling unloved and unwanted as I did in that time, and ever since walking the path together with me, you showed me how easy it could be to turn a stranger into my sister.
I love the fact, my dear friend, that last year we got to celebrate twenty years of our friendship, in the month we met, with spring sun heating up towards the summer. I adore the fact that we realized in time that such anniversaries are not just for couples: that our relationship is worth celebrating just as much, if not more. Isn’t that something that in some way we dreamed about when we were young – this freedom to be able to show love to each other? I still remember that conversation we had in the Masurian Lake District, when we were seventeen.
I love the fact that you took the time out of your busy schedule to go travelling around the little part of our home country with such a rich history. I love it also that I got to share this exploration with you, my history nerd, discovery of a new place, seeing of the new horizon, encompassed in our eyes, together. I love that you are still in my life, after such long twenty one years now, that we are both healthy and capable of seeing each other from time to time, no matter the distance and different cities that lied between us ever since we were eighteen.
We have done so many things together ever since we met, my friend, from awkward teen moments (still remember those letters we left after the camp, with the code?) and me crushing on your brother. We still call each other the secret names and only we know where they come from, and no one else says my third name quite with the same tender inflection you have in your voice. Have I ever told you how much I like hearing it from you? I do not think so, but let me tell you: that precious moment between being a young teen and a young adult is still encompassed for me in the way you say my made-up name. Every time I hear it, I come back in my heart to that safe space, that memory.
Through the first loves of our sixteens (with all the weirdness that entailed, and there was so much weirdness it could translate in the whole novel!), and then, sharing books and ambitions and dreams, I felt like we were pushing limits of our reality together. Then came our first holidays as adults and somehow without knowing it, our love and bond kept on growing to withstand space and time. We said our goodbyes as we were eighteen, leaving our town and our reality and going to two different ends of home. Do you realize we only shared the same space for five years out of twenty one? But the roots were strong. And through distance and time, I have a feeling, my friend, that our friendship grew even stronger. Through your heartbreak and my heartbreak, your difficult path to growing up, my difficult path to realizing myself in my career, we became adults in love with each other, heart to heart as sister to sister. My expat life has never broken us apart. Your difficult and demanding work life never came between us. Sometimes I feel and know, nothing ever will.
Ever since that random morning you came into my life, I have loved you more with every passing while. This is why this song says what I want to say to you. I thank you for all these years, for letting me express my delight, fascination and inspiration with art, music, people, universe, everything that fed my soul. You have always listened. Thank you for your patience, understanding, loyalty and kindness.
You were the one that gave the beginning to all my other loves. Today, I consider myself a capable friend. Other parts of my life can be out of sync. Other roles that I should play in my own life and lives of others might be in disarray – but I can be a friend. If it wasn’t for those first attempts in trust and friendship that we took together, who knows, which steps I would be climbing today…
This post is the first in the Love Letter to a Friend Series.