Dear friend I met while travelling,
I remember the first time I ever saw you. No, really, I do. You were hiding from the rain in a hotel lobby. You were bundled in your toque and sleeping bag on Skype, trying to escape a cold that settles in your bones. You were coming through the arrivals gate at the airport, relief plain on your face. You were celebrating your beer pong victory by dancing in the sand. You were waiting in your living room to greet me with a hug. You wanted a rock climbing partner. You were panting up the mountain trail behind me, nodding as you passed. You were sitting across from me on the flight over. You were a few beers in on a friend’s couch and laughing with your head thrown back. You were playing cards on the hostel floor. You helped me with the shower.
And I know its been a while and that I haven’t kept in touch as well as I should have but trust me, I think of you often. I wonder what you’re doing that Facebook doesn’t tell me. I wonder if you take delight in dancing in the rain like you did on that rooftop. I hope you face each new day full of as much wonder and courage as you did when I knew you. I hope you had someone back home to share your photos with, someone who wanted to know about every detail of your trip. I hope that person gave you a hug when they picked you up at the airport to mirror the one I gave you when I dropped you off. I wonder what you remember of our time together.
I remember how you embraced the ocean for the first time by throwing yourself into the waves in pure joy. I remember when I first learned you could rap and how you were always surprising me. I remember being taught how to breakdance by twelve-year-old girls on a rainy beach, and how you were much better at it than I was. I remember our first and last sushi dinners together. I remember the twilight bath in the riverbed and the moonlight. I remember your no-bones pick-up dance and its complete and utter lack of success. I remember how we scrambled through mud and rockslides to reach that lagoon and then watched the sky burst into a million shades of orange on the beach after. I remember revelling in the way you scratched my head in the cab between bars. I remember dancing to “Cheerleader” five times in a row with a Greek mobster wearing a tutu. I remember how we made that mountain our bitch and gazed at the Milky Way from the top of the world. I remember how much you love roadside popcorn. I remember how you barked at me at first but then let me love and cuddle you after a few hours. I remember how you pushed me into that rooftop pool and how I pulled you in after me. I remember how you made yourself look like a Macedonian grandmother with the dirtiest mind after a gin or two. I remember holding you in my arms and thinking there was literally nowhere I would rather be. I remember how you started a singing battle with our hosts in the village and I remember how you slap your knee when you laugh.
And even though it’s been days, or months, or years since I last saw you, there’s a little part of you that I carry with me always. Because no matter how long we had together, you taught me something.
You taught me that feeling everything so deeply isn’t a bad thing. That everyone has a story to share and each one is as fascinating as the next. That beauty can be found in every place as long as you want to see it. That a bar dance circle is best initiated after 2-3 drinks. That drinking beer instead of water because it’s cheaper isn’t always the best hydration plan. That strangers can become fast friends. That a travel detour isn’t an inconvenience, but a chance to see somewhere you never would have otherwise. That the adventure doesn’t stop here. You taught me that friendships with people who flit briefly into and out of your life are no less brilliant, intense, and meaningful than the ones that span decades. You taught me that people come into our lives for a reason and god, am I ever glad you came into mine.