Old Friends

During different seasons of life, we meet people whom we end up building friendship with. Many of these friendships would only last during a particular season of life; once either of the person moves on to the next stage or place in their life, the friendship kind of die out and eventually these folks are out of your life. Out of sight, out of mind.

There are also other friends who are special because you have close relationships with them. Usually these are people that you’ve grown to be close with because you share a life experience or interests with them, and you know them well enough that you treat them almost like family. The word sincere comes to my mind in describing such friendships. It means genuine, without pretense. These are friends whom you can count on to be there for you when you need them, and they would give without expecting anything in return.

When my brother transferred out from a college in Texas to another school in Iowa, he found himself among a small group of Indonesian students there. The group was very close-knit; I think partly because everyone was in the same situation of being away from home, and they shared the same cultural background of being from the same home country.

One of my brother’s friends there was older than he was, but in a way she and her then fiance treated my brother like their own brother. I met them when I visited my brother during his study there and during his graduation. But one thing I remembered of her was the one (and only) time she called me. It was on September 11, 2011. That day I was in Washington, DC, area, and my brother had just moved to New York City area to start his graduate study. She called me frantically because she had just found out about the attack on the WTC towers, and she couldn’t get hold of my brother to find out if he was ok. Somehow she found my cell number and called me. At that time of the day (late morning, a couple of hours after the planes hit the WTC and the Pentagon), the phone system for calling NYC area was overloaded, so no one could get through. Finally I was able to get hold of my brother, and he was doing fine as he was not in Lower Manhattan when it happened. That’s what I remembered of her, and I really appreciated her concern for my brother’s well-being that day.

Fast forward many years later. I had not talked or seen my brother’s friend or her husband since 2001. But my brother kept in touch with them, and when she found out that we would be traveling past Chicago area, she offered to have us staying at their home in the suburb of Chicago. It was a no-brainer for my brother, and we gladly accepted the offer.

We reached Chicago area quite late at night after a long drive that started in Oklahoma. During the day, we kept her updated on our journey so she knew where we were and when she could expect us to get there. When we arrived, it was like seeing an old friend or family; they connected immediately and there were a lot of things to catch up on. We went to a local Denny’s restaurant for a late dinner. That was the only place nearby that was still open that late in the night. Nothing to write about the dinner itself, but it was great to catch up with her and learn about her life in Chicago.

That’s one thing to consider when you’re doing a long road trip. Sometimes you may pass a place where you know of someone who live there. It’s worth to set aside some time to meet them, and sometimes they wouldn’t mind that you stay with them. It allows you more time to spend with your friend, and also save some money from the trip (you could use the lodging money to treat your host in a dinner instead). Best of all, you get to catch up on life with them.

Old friends

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