I haven’t lived long. I have lived a lot. In 23 years I have seen, done, and experienced more than most people ever will.
I have traveled and lived around the world. I have worked an insane amount of time in some of the most ridiculous environments imaginable. I have met a variety of people. My life has been touched by many people in extraordinarily vast ways.
I tend to write about the worst in my life, so I have been trying to think about those who have touched my life for the better. I have best friends, who I’m not talking about. Some of the most life changing and memorable relationships in my life are the shortest or maybe the most obscure.
Last summer I was in downtown Iowa City sitting on a bench and reading a book. I don’t know what it is about me, but random strangers like talking to me. I accepted this, when an old man sat down next to me and started a conversation. Somehow this conversation lead into love. I think it’s an emotion that drives our souls and allows us to connect with one another. More importantly, it’s one topic I try never to talk about. He asked if I had ever been in love. Normally, I deny deny deny, but I answered him truthfully. Sometimes it’s easier to tell strangers the truth than your best friend. I gave him the briefest of cliff notes when he asked. He did the unexpected. He stood up to leave. Before walking away he looked at me and said “That’s an epic love story. I don’t think it’s at its end.” His last sentence will stick with me forever: “He has yet to find himself; when he’s ready, he will come find you.”
A couple years ago, I decided to partake in Heritage Days (my towns summer weekend festival). I was fairly newly single and not interested in dating. That night I ended up meeting someone. I had never and never have since -so I guess it was the one and only time,- brought a guy home from the bar. He was an alum and lived hundreds of miles away, but we decided to keep talking. There were feelings, but it never evolved romantically. He made a huge impact on my life. He taught me how good and sincere men can be. He treated me with respect and kindness in a time I needed a man to show me that penis was not equal to asshole. I am lucky to still count him as a friend.
Two years ago while I was visiting a friend in San Diego, we attended a party, and I was introduced to his friends. The party included a whole bunch of guys I did not know and a girl I did not know. So I made the obvious choice, I spent my time with the only other female. We cooked! Partially because I like to cook and partially because she was the only other person who wasn’t smashed out of their mind. She and I ended up chatting and getting to know each other. In all technicality we’ve only seen each other once, but I count her as a close friend. Facebook enabled us to maintain and grow a friendship. I am so excited to celebrate her bachelorette party with her this fall in New Orleans! True friendship has no bounds.
When I lived in France, I had so many brief and meaningful encounters. It didn’t mean anything then, but it became the foundation for the research I did in my undergrad. I was in Marseilles when I met a very old Algerian man. We spoke five minutes. In those minutes I learned of the struggles North African immigrants face living in France. I don’t know why it stuck with me, but I can describe him. He was always the face in mind through the late nights of research. Knowing someone grounded me in my reading.
Almost five years ago, I went on vacation. I met the one person who changed my heart forever. We met and went on one date. It was one incredible date on the beach. We were separated by 2,000 miles, but managed to become best friends who talked constantly. He knew me better than anyone, and I slowly learned to trust he would always be there. After three years, I visited him. It was the weirdest feeling knowing we had seen each other twice, but we knew so much about one another. We were both damaged; I think that’s why it was so easy to love him. It’s hard to explain being in love with someone you spent so little time with, but I was. He showed me what love felt like; then he shattered my heart. I wouldn’t give up those few days for anything because in the short time together, I learned what the world could feel like.
I have met so many people. Most are brief and leave little to no memory. A few left a huge impression on my mind, intellect, or heart; some impacted every aspect of me. I don’t think I knew what role they would play at the time. Thank you to everyone who has made my life better in a little or big way.