Friendship and the Pause Button

One of my favorite and least favorite things about traveling is meeting new people. When you travel alone it is inevitable that you meet new friends on a consistent basis. People open their doors and hearts to you, tell you their fears and secrets, in your constant movement their secrets are safe with you as they leave when you do. It's an interesting thing about solo travel. You form tight bonds and love unconditionally and days later they depart, or you depart, and the memory of that place is tied tightly with that person who you may or may not see again outside of Facebook.

There are people that you know, you just KNOW you will see again. For me, it's usually those who live in a country that I haven't been to yet or those who live in a place with a popular airport hub. Some I know I will never see again and no matter how much they assure me that we will meet again, I somehow know that it's not true. Those dear souls are the ones that rip me apart when I have to leave. Those are the ones that I cry about when I'm gone, the ones whose presence I mourn. The leaving never gets easier no matter how often I do it, no matter how I try to steel my heart. It always hurts.

But even though I have the tendency at home not to trust or bare my soul to new people, on the road it's a compulsion of mine to not just open up, but open up so wide that I am near to bursting with trust. This is one thing that I need to work on desperately at home. At home I'm so guarded that my heart is basically Lady Gaga, surrounded by a mass of large bodyguards with Uzis. This is not an exaggeration. 

Some that I know I'll see again, it's never really a goodbye. It's just hitting the pause button on a friendship to be released at an unknown point in the future. Those people I don't mourn, instead I anxiously await our future rendezvous, certain that it will come sooner or later, inshallah.

When at last I meet up with a friend from halfway around the globe again, it seems like no time has passed. We parted only last week in Indonesia and have picked right up again in Morocco. It's comfortable, with shared memories of a distant land that has somehow morphed into a closer here and now. Punchlines are picked up where they were dropped and new jokes are made for next time. It's a continuum. Life lived exclusively in the present but with the whisper of the past in our ears. New memories are made and will be continued when we meet again. And we will, I just know it.