"I cannot phrase how happy I am right now!"
How did she react?
She hasn't yet.
How did I feel?
There are people you run into years after you have seen them last and you wonder: "Why on earth were I ever friends with that person?!". You chat for a few awkward minutes and remember nights you drank booze you did not even like (but it was the drink back then), made fun of yourself (because that proved how lofty you were) and had a crush on someone who kept forgetting your name (but man, that person was just too cool for school). Your past friend tells you about their life, it sounds like everything is exactly the way it used to be. And you realize: Change is a great thing. Eventually there are layers of yourself you do outgrow, thank god. Soon you look at your watch and say: "I really have to run...". Maybe you hug them, because after all you did share something once, no matter how glad you are that once is not now. You wish them all the best. Then you leave.
So there are these people. And then there are their opposites. Let me introduce you to my personal opposite: Her name is Arri.
She and I have been living in two different countries for four years. Before we were friends for three years. In all of our time apart we met once. For the rest of the 48 months my Facebook feed kept me updated on when she went on vacation and how sunny her days were there. I watched her win dance competitions on the blue whitish screen and liked the picture of her graduation day. I knew about when she had partied in Berlin and who she was hanging out with from the photos she was tagged in. The difference between her and my other Facebook friends: Each time her name was displayed I felt warmth creeping up my belly. And when I hit the "play again" button on the London Pharrell's "Happy" video she danced in I cried. Because seeing her filled me with pride. And love. And joy about the fact that she kept evolving, I could tell by the way she danced and the look on her face in the pictures. Navigating through the twenties takes a lot of work and it looked like she was doing her part. I have immense respect for that woman. Her moves touched me deep inside, in that place only authentic expression speaks to. I knew: She was connected in her motion.
The best part: Even if she has not changed at all I know I will hug her and won't let her go for minutes next time I see her. While those past friends make you appreciate change, their opposites, the Arris, trigger gratitude for continuity. You don't talk to them in decades, then you meet and you take it right from where you stopped last time. Days, moths or years don't matter.
My past friends- the ones that stay in the past- never got to see me. Meanwhile Arri makes me feel at home within seconds, regardless of where or when we see each other. I look into her eyes and I trust her, love everything I see and cannot wait to hear about the highways, dead ends and country lanes she has been moving upon. When I tell her about mine I open up in a way I only do with a handful of people- she is one of them. And in all those years I never had a doubt that if I called her she would be there- as I would be for her.
In a globalized world everyone always moves. A new job in Tokyo, a love in San Francisco, a school in Copenhagen. Saying goodbye has become a monthly tradition for me and my inner time difference calculator works on high speed. I can figure out the most subtle facial expressions in a blurry Skype conversation and I check the weather report for seven cities, it makes me feel closer to my friends and family abroad. I miss them. Instead of coming back usually they go further. Another new city, another offer. Returning? Not yet. Maybe never.
Today a miracle happened: I found out Arri is moving back to Berlin! I am, too.
After I had seen her Facebook post I shouted for minutes and danced. My broad smile did not leave, it still covers my face. I feel a tickling on the inside and a major glow. And one thousand bubbles, or more. The amount of joy exceeds my ability to express it by far. That reaction, I think, is the hugest compliment.
I hope I will meet Arri soon, celebrate continuity in our friendship and change in our lives. I will look at her and see the most beautiful human being. And I will open my mouth and say a hundred times:
Welcome back, Arri!