Thoughts on Nomadic Friendship

One of the most frustrating things in the world about your best friends living in 4 corners of the universe is that you never have any idea when you will see them again. With me in Bangkok working on my PhD research, Rachel in San Francisco working on a film, and Jennie in Africa working for a development organization, jet setting around the globe for a coffee and/or a glass of wine just seems a bit unrealistic. For this reason, most of our in-person interactions are not planned, but totally and completely random.

When I moved from Nepal to the UK in September 2012, I stopped by Bangkok on my way out and on my last day, I had a final coffee with Rachel. After coffee, both still hung over from my going away party the night before, Rachel and I walked towards the train platform to say our final goodbyes. A bit teary-eyed and with a hug, I said goodbye and turned to walk away. A few steps later, I turned back around and said, “You know, this is fun in some ways. I have no idea what country I will see you in next.”

Rachel responded, “I can’t wait to find out.”

I continued on my way, smiling to myself; in just a few words, she promised that we would always be friends.

Fast forward: April 2013. I am finalizing my plans to move back to Bangkok, Jennie has moved to Rwanda, but Rachel is still there and I can’t wait to get back. I see Rachel on Skype and type, “Hey, I will be in Bangkok in July!”

She responds, “I just quit my job at the UN and am moving to America to travel across the country on an electric scooter.”

“When did you quit?”

“Five minutes ago.”

I was shocked, I mean, shocked, but I have never been one to discourage an adventure, so I say “that is amazing, when do you get to America?”

She says, “We leave from Charleston, SC on July 4th.”

Shock turned to amazement; I was going to be there then!!! My sister and mother wanted to take a road trip during my summer holiday. It was incredible, we were going to see each other in a place neither of us had ever been before.

A chance encounter

A chance encounter

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see her face that day and it really got me thinking about friendship. Time and space are absolutely, 100% irrelevant when it comes to love and true friendship. Sure, with today’s technology you can see someone 10,000 miles away with video chat and send your thoughts in an instant via a Facebook message. This all keeps us feeling connected, but this is not what I am talking about.

I am talking about love. I am not sure how it works or why it works the way it does, but I did not have to see Rachel every day. I did not have to know what she had for breakfast. Love is constant and irrelevant of the minutes and hours that pass. Over my many years living abroad I have come to understand this concept. With my closest friends and my sisters, the instant I see them, even if we haven’t talked in a year (which sadly happens often), after a hug and a squeeze we are on the same page, as if I knew what they had for breakfast every day for the last 365 days.

People often ask me if I ever get lonely, moving from country to country, city to city. I always tell them no, and they never believe me. I would not believe me either. It is proven to me time and time again, love is constant and everywhere, and I just can’t feel lonely knowing that and knowing that my friends will pop up in all corners of the universe, when I least expect.


4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Nomadic Friendship

  1. Rachel says:

    Michaelle, this is a beautiful post. When I arrived in Charleston in July last year, I was a mess. My boyfriend had just broken up with me in New York. I felt alone and afraid of the future. I was so sad. I’d caught a flight from New York to Charleston to begin an epic cross-country road trip on a scooter (I was in post breakup ‘suddenly I have to prove that I’m awesome’ mode). I was crying at the airport when I arrived and then suddenly you were there, just up the road from my hotel. If I were scripting all of this, it would be an impossible story ending – what the chances that you and I would end up in the random city of Charleston, South Carolina on the same day at this critical time in both our lives!? But we were there together, I felt so lucky and I knew I would be OK. I wonder what country I will see you in next? I can’t wait to find out.

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