The Name of the Game
For the past few weeks, South Korea has been graced with the presence of one Shandi Petersen; vegan, animal lover, and world traveler extraordinaire. Also known as my oldest and dearest friend, someone who has kept me in check during some of the most tumultuous years of my life (no easy feat…just ask her), someone who has been both the angel and the devil on my respective shoulders depending on the situation and someone who has been more of a sister to me then anything, my family really. A few years back we decided to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our friendship by escaping to the mountains just a short drive away from our hometown and ring in the New Year in our own special way. We rented a suite in a charming cottage-style inn that boasted a view of the surrounding Rocky Mountains and our very own fireplace, gorged ourselves on delicious Japanese food for our last meal of 2005 and went back to our hotel armed with champagne and other assorted goodies, ready to bid adieu to a year that had been both arduous and testing, but chock full of lessons learned both about ourselves and who we were and who or what we someday might want to become. We figured what better way to set the tone for our imminent future then to surround ourselves with the things we hoped we would be able to carry forward with us and leaving behind those things we wanted to learn from and leave. Friendship, warmth, good food over good conversation, wine, and a bottle of champagne ready to pop because we were sure we would have so much to celebrate.
And for all you sickos who went “there” with the whole “…in our own special way…” line, get back to reality and your mind out of the gutter.
The point of the charming anecdote was to illustrate the longevity of our friendship and how wonderful it’s been to be able to spend some quality time together in the past few weeks. There are three (main) reasons why this is thus (try saying THAT three times fast):
1) I love her (sigh…I make this too easy sometimes)
2) Spending time with someone who has spent the majority of the past six months in places like Greece, Italy and Egypt (to name a few) is always enlightening, and
3) It is unlikely that we will be residing on the same continent, much less in the same country or city, for the next few years as her travel plans have been extended in the direction of infinity and beyond…can’t decide of I’m jealous or sympathetic…
Change has been the name of the game for me the past few years, for a lot of my friends it seems. Coincidence? Maybe. But it’s interesting to see the different directions people go; the friend who inspired you to reach for the stars stuck in a rut of their own making, the friend you never expected to stay in touch with who has become one of your closest confidants and has followed through when they haven’t before and you can see them grow and change. The friends you find new inspiration in, who continue to surprise you in fresh and exciting ways and the ones who don’t surprise you at all but who you know are always going to be the same wonderful, passionate, outrageous people you fell in love with in the first place.
The best friends you can find are the ones you can crack a bottle of wine with and by the time you finish it you know that you haven’t told them anything you wouldn’t have told them even if you were stone cold sober. When it doesn’t matter if your plans include copious amounts of gin and tonic or jasmine tea, a night at the bar or a weekend in the mountains, dinner in Calgary or South Korea. When you can be who you were, who you are now and who you’re going to be and know that they’ll still be there. Not cause they have to be, but because they want to.
Travel has a way of either making things seem bigger then they actually are, or bringing it all in perspective. If you’re lucky, it’ll be both.
By the way…
The 24th day of this month will mark the halfway point of our contracts here in Korea. Six months have come and gone since arriving here and it seems like it was both yesterday and forever ago. Hard to imagine it all coming to a close, but, inevitably, it will, and sooner then I could have ever imagined it.
Or will it?