Saturday, August 04, 2007

Random Friends

Friendship is a strange thing.

Twenty-five years ago, I became friends with a young girl from Brazil. She was the quiet type. Okay, compared to me, most folks are the quiet type. However, there was something in our outlooks on life that drew us together.

When she had time in her schedule, I’d go over to her house and we’d work on homework together. Then she’d play one of the two baby grand pianos in her living room. Now, I’d seen homes with a piano before, but two seemed a bit much. Turned out she was a bit of a genius when it came to music. I loved hearing her play. She adored my wicked sense of humour. We were good friends.

As with a great number of childhood friendships, this one fell into disrepair as she moved back to her native country and I continued my existence in the lovely but lonely Goleta; like most youngsters, we forgot to exchange contact information.

Time got away from both of us. I would go on to college, to graduate school, and to teach. She would go on to win a number of awards, to a music conservatory in Moscow, to graduate school and to teach. Different paths, similar results.

However, time was on our side as it allowed for the development of the needed technology for us to reconnect. I had just recently used the internet to help find people for my high school’s 20th class reunion – yes, La Professora is that old – and wondered if the internet would be just as useful to locate my long-lost international friend. Luckily for me, she’s rather famous and has her own website, making her rather easy to find. Using my knowledge of Spanish, I was able to guess the meaning of the Portuguese words on her site and contact was made.

Of course, the tricky part was figuring out how to write that message in such a way that it would get read – who knows what kind of weirdos might be trying to contact her on a daily basis. I kept the message short, with just enough information to remind her of who I had been, but not too much as to seem pushy or immodest. The reply I got back was wonderful.

It was like the friendship hadn’t been on hold for 24 years. Even though she was currently in Argentina for a series of concerts, we discussed how we would be able to get together to get caught up in each other’s lives. When our plans to meet at a California airport while she was in transit to a music festival fell through due to a change in flight plans, I decided “what the heck, I’ll go to the festival” if only to get the chance to hear her play the piano once again.

Which is how I ended up spending three days this summer on the island of Hawaii.

In between a grueling schedule of rehearsals and performances, my ‘old’ friend and I got caught up. We discovered that even though life had taken us in different directions, our lives aren’t that far different. She still plays the piano beautifully – ‘though, these days I understand what a treat it is to have her play for me – and I still can make even the most teary-eyed person laugh with my wicked sense of humour.
Photo: Two old friends together;
I’m holding the camera, she’s standing beside me.
From all this I learned 3 things:
Some distances traveled are not just physical, they are spiritual and emotional.
A good friendship, even ignored and left to whither on the vine, can be revived and renewed.
If you’re going to travel some distance to see an old friend, Hawaii isn’t that a bad place to meet.