About 6 months ago, I received a brilliant piece of advice from a friend, Stephanie. I was feeling sad and alone; she reminded me that there were friends waiting just around the corner… all I had to do was look up and ask for that helping hand when I needed it. It was true then, and I am reminded of her advice now.
Witnessing close friends back home moving on and off in their own direction stings a bit, and it left me feeling torn between two worlds. And so I walked home from the office yesterday, feeling heart-sick and alone, needing a hug and reassuring friend.
I picked up the phone and called Amanda. I am reminded that sometimes you find the best friends in the most unlikely places. In many ways, Amanda and I could not be more different, but perhaps because of that, we understand each other so well. She has quickly become one of my closest friends, confidantes and support while overseas. A quick chat later, the words “the life isn’t perfect or easy, but it’s ok” ringing in my head, and I was moving forward.
As I walked in the door, all I wanted to do was to curl up on my bed. But instead, Brenda was there, asking how my day was. I decided that a hug was more important than self-pity, that a being vulnerable was better than pretending. I told her the truth… it was ok, but I was feeling a bit down. She came over, gave me a hug, made me a cup of tea, gave me a donought she had just baked and we sat together on the couch together for a while. It was this moment of honesty and understanding when I knew I had found a friend.
Tears joined us soon. Together, we talked of relationships, of love, of marriage, of families and the general trials and tribulations of the heart. We listened to country music and the laments they describe. (Tears loves country music, and I’m sad to say that I actually enjoyed it.) By the end of the hour, I was smiling, spirits lifted.
As I walked away, the words to one of my favourite songs rang in my head: “Whenever I’m down, I call on you my friend; A helping hand you lend, in my time of need.” In the most unsuspecting of times and places, I opened up and found a friend. I felt a sense of belonging as relief and love swept over me.
That night, we celebrated the new year as a family with fanta, chips and a dance competition. When the plans were announced, Johns looked at me and asked “Is Colleen going to be watching!?” to which I replied, “No way! I’ll be dancing with you!” followed by rounds of giggles from the kids. Well I tried to dance, but was shown up by Akuzike who shook her booty like I’ve never seen before (and if you’ve seen a 2 year old shake her booty, you know it’s the most adorable thing in the world). Johns proceed to astound us with his moves, straight out of an African hip-hop music video. Frasier, like any shy and awkward 14 year, took a while to warm up, but by the end even he was swaying to and fro in time to the beat. And Stemken won the competition. In Brenda’s words “he didn’t have many moves, but he gave it his whole heart.”
And with this conclusion to the day, I fell into an exhausted sleep, full of laughter and love for unexpected friendships and helping hands.