I got an email out of the blue from an old friend. We had drifted apart long ago, living in different cities for many years since with only very little contact.
His email was prompted by his New Year’s resolution to write old friends, and tell them what that friendship meant to him. So I was a pleasantly surprised recipient of one.
The cynics amongst us might think it’s a mid-life crisis on his part, or some sort of self-improvement technique as taught in a self-help book. I don’t really care why he wrote me; the sincerity was what mattered.
I was struck by two things. First, the stories he told about a friendship 20 years ago had been long-forgotten by me but came back in vivid terms once reminded. It was if, by being reminded, that these stories happened yesterday.
Second, it was fascinating to read what he remembered and valued. Like interests I might have shared with him that I would never have imagined to be meaningful.
So I wrote him a reply. It was easy to remember things that his friendship gave me in turn. Things that were unique to him such as the fact that he is a native of New Orleans and introduced me to that city as an insider. My love affair with New Orleans has endured ever since.
I was also reminded of the fact that my family and I probably won’t live in Prague forever. Nor will our ex-pat friends. It’s the nature of being an ex-pat that friendships are somehow temporal. But they are still enduring in a way.
We all have friendships that have faded over time and place. Perhaps most of our friends in early adulthood are no longer active. But did they really die? Not if the memory can be conjured, and one can describe how that person played a role in helping you become who you are.