"You have the biggest heart. Thank you for standing there with open arms for the past two years, spreading your amazing welcoming and appreciative vibe."
How did he react?
It was 4 AM, we were both a little drunk. We looked at each other.
Henning swallowed, nodded and said: "Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that."
How did I feel?
Henning and I go to school together. I see him a lot. He waves at me while I run to class, late again. He asks me how I am after school but I can't stick around to chat because I have to catch a train. We stand in line for coffee, I am talking on the phone, he laughs with four of his friends from our year. We say hi with our eyes. Later I pass him in the hallway, he says hey, I say, aw, sorry, gotta run, my Yoga students are waiting.
I have been studying at UBonn for two years and never really integrated in my year. Don't get me wrong, I like my fellow students. They're nice. And I appreciate school immensely. I just love doing a lot of other things, too, and my best friends live 450 miles away. Plus, I have always chosen intimate friendships over group hangs, even though friends is my favorite tv show.
Henning seems like he's the other friendship type. I always see him with the same four people. I think of them as a gang.
While most of my fellow students I met in the beginning but never went out with gave up on me after some time, Henning didn't change a thing. The others withdrew their hands, looked for someone else's to put them in and we were down to a friendly nodding. Henning's arms remained open, all the way through the four semesters. His "How are you?" comes with the warmest gaze, every time. He really wants to know. His eyes say: "Hey, there's space for you if you want it.", still, even if he hasn't gotten a response the last three times. Studying with him was a blessing because he is not only clever and incredibly disciplined, but his amazing personality shines through in that context, too: He's down for sharing his exam fears and helping others with theirs, he does not take criticism personally but he takes a minute, then either says "thanks for saying that, you're right!" or explains to you in the most patient and loving way why he thinks you're wrong. No, I don't know a lot about him. But I definitely am fond of him. Yesterday he came to my goodbye party. I got the chance to hold up a mirror to him there:
He had sent me the sweetest message last week, saying that he digs this project and that it keeps reminding him of how important and good it is to meet people with an open heart. He thanked me for doing this. I received the message in a sad and stressed moment. It was written so beautifully that I started crying. I thought: "Seriously? I make this guy remember to be open hearted? What a crazy world..:" To me, Henning seems like he doesn't even know how to close his heart.
Being surrounded by this man has been a blessing. Hey Henning, I am glad about every single smile you sent out to me, every hi and every how are you. You have been reminding me of how important and good it is to meet people with an open heart. Thank you so much for doing this.