I remember those words like it was yesterday, uttered by my very first online acquaintance.
I met her in the beginning of the nineties. Internet and online communications were in their infancy, yet I already then developed an avid interest for online communities, as suddenly a whole new world of interactions was opening up to my perception.
She became my real close friend for a couple of years, a confidant that I shared my thoughts with. There was something safe in the fact that I shared my secrets with basically a stranger, thousands of miles away from me, someone I never met, yet a living, breathing soul who could offer words of empathy and comfort.
Being far away from my established friends and my family, having left everything behind on another continent a few years prior, I realized that making real life friends as an adult was a task light years removed from the time when I was a child.
|Me and My Best Friend in 1989|
Once my parents immigrated to Sweden, our family went through a mental transition, one that deserves its own exclusive post. To leave ones country - what at that time was assumed as forever - is not something one easily recovers from and the experiences of immigration shaped my early teenager years.
Nevertheless, I still made friends. I found quickly that initially I was drawn to other children, which just like me found themselves as foreigners in another country. We were brought together due to our similar fate and felt unified due to our situation.
As time progressed and my family became successfully integrated in the new society and our new country became our home, as a teenager I slowly made friends with Swedish kids, even though I with amusement must admit that they all had foreign ties, in one way or another.
|Me And My Sister In 1994|
I kept my university friends when I started to work and when I moved away from home on my own, I had a well-established network with only a few friends, but still friends I liked and could count on. The phone was never off the hook and I never felt alone – in fact at times I wish I was.
When I left Sweden as a young adult and moved to the other side of the Atlantic, I quickly found myself in a situation that required solitude and discretion and making friends became suddenly impossible.
And then one day it just happened, as I went through life’s ups and downs, traveled the paths less traveled I found that as an adult I became scrutinized by others, at times viewed as threat and interference and felt unwelcome into new established friendship circles. At the best I could make brief and superficial acquaintances.
It dawned on me then that the connections we make as young are golden.
Whether it is the mindset of younger years, the ability to bounce back so easily or whether it is the will and interest to genuinely get to know people - nevertheless, childhood friends are the ones we should try to keep. There is something infinitely comforting to have known - and have been known by - someone for decades, to have followed them through life’s turmoil and to have shared so many unforgettable moments. It is a magic I will sadly never experience.
I still keep in touch with many of my old friends, those that I made during my teenage years. Still, life has brought us in different directions and the closeness we once felt is long gone. Today, after having lived more than a decade in a new country, I cannot state to have made many new friends.
However life has taught me that it is not the quantity but the quality that counts in the end.
Maybe that is the difference between the friendships we strike as young and the one we do as adults.
|Me And Elizabeth|
Her concern and genuine care has kept me sane through many recent storms over the past two years. She has shared my deepest secrets and I hers and her beautiful and unblemished mind and candid empathy has made me once again trust in the goodness of people, corroborating my belief that we should pay attention to who destiny brings our way. Each and every encounter has a higher meaning and the people we meet always have a role to play in our lives.
I have today reached the conclusion that we cannot go thorough life alone. As much as we need shelter and food, we also need love and companionship. And at least one good friend.
There are no rules that define a true friend; however often it is the hardship of life that shows us that true friendship can come from the most unusual and unexpected places.