On Making New Friends

There’s something so warm and wonderful about meeting new people while traveling. About making new friends. This tie that binds you to another person, another spirit. Just the little fact: that I am far from home, and so are you. There are the little things, like being able to share travel tips, take advice on where to go next, what to do, what beers to buy where.

And then there are the bigger things: where will we end up? Will we ever even meet again? And if we do, indeed, meet again, will it be the same? Would we be sitting here, together, if we had met anywhere but this dusty, foreign land?

At the table there are so many people. Three tables have been pushed together, and yet they still overflow. Beers and meals and pots of tea fight each other for space. iPads are taken out to look at what someone looked like before he was dared to grow his travel beard.

Everyone always looks so much more different in pictures where they are home, clean, and in clothes not caked in dust and travel and signs of wear.

A Dane teaching a Brazilian kid how to speak a new language, people laughing at little jokes in big corners, and a conversation shouted at the waiter who is always here when we are always here and knows us all by name by now. And games. Games of cards, on screens, word play riddles that stump the whole table for hours on end.

We have Tore and Mikkel from Denmark, Sean and Loch from America and Moksha (Jaja) from the Philippines. Joey from New Zealand, Hannah the Aussie, Maria is from Denmark, too, and Mireia is from Spain. Ivan from Brazil, Julian from Belgium, Jasmin from Germany, Happy from Nepal, and me.

Maria and I spent the afternoon today in the Garden of Dreams, reading in the sun
Maria and I spent the afternoon today in the Garden of Dreams, reading in the sun

It becomes so easy when you find others in the same space that you have become so content with simply being in. An old city becomes new again, old experiences become real again. It becomes about something more than simply you and the city. About more than just you trying to navigate, to tease the knots out of this little wound up, tied up city. More than the sleepless nights when you start to wonder where you are, why you are here, and what are you really getting out of it. Because then you wake up in the morning and you remember the faces and the streets and the pieces of the world that you are picking up all along the way as you stumble through the cities, the countries, the new voices and languages and sounds.

And then, like the rules of this thing dictate and require, they leave. They dissipate, off to new countries, new cities, new cafes to sit in with pots of tea and beers and games and languages spread from one end of the table to the other.

And you can ask yourself when you will ever meet again. And you can say that you miss it, but to say that is not being true to the essence of the thing. That these friends, these others that we meet wandering the trails too, are that. Those that we meet. And only that. They are those that we share something with, but just for a short time. Because that is what makes them special. That is what makes it all unique.

And if fate brings us together again, then that is what fate has planned. And then that city, that country, that corner tucked back in the middle of everything will light up, too, with our meeting.

But in the meantime we take these new friends, these new people and faces, and we appreciate them for what they are. A spot in the middle of the oh-so-foreign city. A new face. A newly familiar face. A companion for sleepless nights and empty mornings, busy afternoons and scary evenings where we do not know really where the future brings us.

And until then, we say simply hello and we say simply goodbye.

The Garden of Dreams, in the middle of Kathmandu
The Garden of Dreams, in the middle of Kathmandu
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2 thoughts on “On Making New Friends”

  1. Jenna darling,
    A lovely piece with moving observations. And, in addition, from this old editor, your writing is simply getting so much better both in structure and in observation.
    Love,
    Peter

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