“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
― Jon Katz
Amigo/Amiga de corazón. Friend of the heart.
This phrase was one of the first I learnt in Spanish. It’s a beautiful way to refer to one’s true friends.
The girl with the big laugh in the picture above, is my amiga de corazón, Nicole. We met in the Matrix in Perth, but staying with Nicole for several months before I left, I unexpectedly found myself feeling completely at home somewhere, for the first time in many years. Fellowship, safety, silliness, and the incredible comfort of simply being, around someone who did the same, was an unexpected gift.
I never thought I’d make close friends as an adult. As a kid/teenager, time was of little essence aside from the nightmare that was school. We could simply be, talking for hours about nothing and everything, becoming life-and-death mates, blood on blood. I remember long afternoons hanging out in strange places, from communal basketball courts, to random street corners, to various void decks. Shoulder to shoulder in a line, the three or four of us in our inevitably grubby school uniforms, sharing life force, questioning the universe, dreaming about escape.
Home was wherever we happened to be, because that little bit of the galaxy belonged to us completely, in the time that we occupied it.
That is still the best definition of home I have – where the friends of my heart are.
As i grew into adulthood, I learnt not to wear my heart on my sleeve, and wondered why people around me seemed so distant, so untouchable, so opaque.
Then after a very long time (because I am not the sharpest pencil in the case) I realised that I had so many barriers in place, I wouldn’t have seen a welcome if it was dropped on my head. So I learnt to remove those filters.
And the universe smacked me on the back of the head and rolled her eyes, but still sent some wonderful people my way.
And we all lived happily ever after.
Ok, I jest.
In the process of removing mental and emotional barriers, I am also slowly discovering what it means to be honest with myself, and consequently, with others around me. I’ve spent so many years throwing all my energy into keeping an even keel, that learning to feel again is very interesting: half the time I can’t identify what it is I am feeling, the other half of the time, I am surprised at my reactions to things. I’ve learnt things about myself during these last couple of months in Mexico, some good, some bad, others, just bizarre. It appears I’m not quite the person I thought I was.
But the vague idea of “home” hasn’t changed. Geography is largely irrelevant (so far anyway) to whether I feel safe, comforted, well. I leave Mexico City in a few days, and while I am looking forward to getting out of the big city into some wide open space, and catching up with a dear friend, I find myself thinking that I am leaving far too soon. I’ve been pretty sick for about half of the eight weeks I’ve been in Mexico City, but it hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for this place (though 3 days without water might…?), and the people that have made the experience how stellar it has been so far.
Two and a bit months into a trip I never thought I would take, still unsure what or why I’m doing what I’m doing, I am deeply appreciative of the people who have crossed my path and shared their life force with me over the years. Old friends (I rue not having made it a habit to make portraits of everyone important to me until recently) and new.
This post is a long overdue expression of gratitude to all of you. You have taught me the real meaning of “friend” and enriched my life immeasurably, and I will miss you all till I see you again.
Where or who are you most at home with?
Elsewhere: Legal Nomads writes an absolutely brilliant piece on home sickness when one has no home. Check it out here