True Friends

She’s held my hair while throwing up in the middle of the street after a night of too much drinking. Even after leaving a disgusting trail of my bodily fluids on her car door, she’s never complained. She’s never complained about anything she’s done for me for that matter. True friends are so hard to find. I don’t think we treasure them enough when we have the chance.

I met Lena while I was a journalism student at Flagler College, in Saint Augustine, a picturesque town north of Florida. The first time I saw her she was wearing a big, round, black hat, and red heels. To say she has a unique sense of fashion would be an understatement. She’s just purely exceptional, she’s just who she is. Nonconformist, even though she might not even realize it. Of course, I was shy, I wouldn’t talk to a stranger. I have always been one to keep to myself. It’s been easier that way, not to open too much, not to share too much. It wasn’t until we had a creative writing class together that we started to talk. She approached me, and made all kinds of efforts to invite me into her circle of friends, into her life. Lena must have sensed I didn’t trust people. She was one of the few who’d always smiled at me, and I didn’t know why until much later, after we became friends.

true love exists between friends

One day, as I headed to the library, she asked me if I wanted to eat something. I must looked so frail back then, secretly dealing with an eating disorder. She told me to stop by her room when I was done studying. When I knocked on her door, she was waiting with a Chinese food feast. I sat on her floor, and that’s where it all began.

Some people say that we have one true love in our lifetime. I don’t believe in this. I believe that true love doesn’t just exist between lovers or couples. If more justly so, true love exists between friends. It has to exist, otherwise how else can I explain all that we have endured together, and all that we have done with and for each other. It’s not kindness or sympathy. Its love at it’s best.

We don’t chose the family we are born into, but we chose our friends, or sometimes we are lucky to be chosen by someone else. Lena chose to be my friend, and for this I will be forever grateful. On my darkest moments, she was not only the ear that listened to all my madness, she was also the voice of reason. She loves me, not despite my flaws but because of them. A real friend accepts you just as you are, and encourages you to be the best you can be.

Lena taught me to embrace life, to laugh, to suck up the sun, to be grateful. She’s the kind of person who lightens up a whole room by simply smiling. And as opposite as we are, we believe in making a difference, and changing the world for the better. We believe in sharing and caring for others. We are strong, and stronger because we have each other.

I moved to Amsterdam in 2009, after my student visa expired in the U.S. I had to say good bye to one of the most important people in my life. Emails, letters, postcards and a few lengthy skype talks have strengthen our relationship. Every day, I think of her, and every day, I miss my friend.