Chapter Nine – A Time For Friends

The morning after you have had sex is very different for everybody. For me, picture the morning-after-scene from 500 days of summer, just more ridiculous. I see rainbows and unicorns, while I am floating on a cloud of marshmallows and love. All of the euphoria and the adrenaline left over from the night’s sexcapades are exhilarating. It is definitely one of my favorite states of being. Sex is not everything though. The morning after is only as good as it can get if you have friends to share it with. Friends can make that instant tenfold better, or worse.

I happen to have exceptional friends. We rarely agree on things, and rarely are in the same geographical location, but man, do we ever love each other. That is truly one of the greatest riches of travelling as much as I have. The people you get to meet, and the magic that occurs when you manage to stay in each other’s lives, is a feeling like no other. Having such great support makes everything seem more bearable. Of course, disappointment occurs, and you inevitably lose great people, but the rewards so exceed the costs.

I have a hard time telling anecdotes about friendships, because what makes them so wonderful is their continuity. One night stands or trips are easier to summarize; they are exciting. Friendships are entities that have their own lives and their synopses are a challenge, to say the least. Nevertheless, my story would be nothing without them. Who would judge me for knowingly making out with a porn-star? Who would remember all the crazy things we did and did not do? Friends are the testimony to the life you choose for yourself. Mostly though, they are there for you when the fun stops.

The day I met Angie* would go down in history as the true beginning of my university experience. The week previous, John had dumped me and Joe had shown me that total strangers could make me feel human again with a mere hand gesture. The main thorn in my foot at that point was still my roommate. She remains known as “Hitler”. She despised people and was making my life a living nightmare. I had found her on Craigslist. I had little choice; I was moving to Canada to start university having never stepped foot in Vancouver. Her apartment was clean, on campus, furnished, and mostly not part of campus residency. I knew I would have a hard time living with one girl, let alone four Canadian seventeen year olds in a tiny res dorm. I was only nineteen. I felt like a child. Being European however, I had been a bartender for four years, which created a social abyss between my fellow fresh-women and I. She was a third year student and extremely neat. I thought living with her was safest.

I was so fucking wrong. She made my life hell. Due to her never-ending set of rules and demands, and even though we had a balcony, I was only allowed to smoke in the hall, which luckily was outdoors. Being out there quite often enabled me to meet our next-door neighbors, Angie and Jose*. I met Jose first. He had an infectious smile and the kind of friendliness that only comes out of warmer cultures. His Mexican accent was so pleasant to my ears. I did not want to lose the Spanish I had just learned living in Argentina. I was craving a Latin connection. He welcomed me to the neighborhood one day in the hall in passing. We had both just moved in and were excited to see what university had in store for us. Boy, were we ever in for a ride. I met Angie briefly a couple of days later, also during one of my smoke breaks. She seemed very nice and genuine. Her energy was, and is to this day, one of the sweetest, kindest I have ever encountered in anyone.

The night I was preparing to go meet Joe, I was frantically trying to come up with the perfect outfit. I had not tried to attract a man in two years. I had not even liked unintentionally attracting them. Hitler was a size triple zero so there was no help to be found in her closet. I had this idea of what I wanted to look like in my head and I was not going to budge. The one thing I was missing was a pair of tight-fitting black pants. In my folly, I went across the hall, knocked at the door and asked for Angie. Jose was very happy to see me, not showing any signs of my trespassing any social codes. This emboldened me. I asked her for the most unexpected, perhaps most random of friend pick-up lines. “Do you per chance have a pair of black pants I could borrow for this evening? You see I’m going on my first date since I got dumped and I need to look bomb.” Her eyes glistened with amusement. “Of course, chica. You have to!” Right after I left, ecstatic with my find, Jose smiled and said to her: “Darling, I think your wardrobe just doubled.”

How right he was. They were not a couple, just a couple of friends conveniently transferring into the same university, after spending the two years previous at a different college together. I practically lived with them that year. I was too afraid to do anything at Hitler’s house, but quietly sneak into my bed at night and sleep. It was a great deal for them too. I went over and cooked for them all the time. We became a happy family that extended all year long. So many nights were spent getting to know each other at the campus bars, and then back at their house, playing guitar hero, standing on the living room table. It was a blissful time. Both Angie and I were single and ready to mingle. We went out five nights a week. We still kept our studies in check. We had it all.

My first year in college was pure and simple self-discovery, in the company of great friends. Angie knew I was especially crazy because of the breakup; she talked me down and through every mistake I made. The first six months of our friendship were not easy for me; she was my rock. She had a tough time too. Single girl in college, she quickly became fed up of meaningless flings with boys. We both yearned for men—whatever that subjective differentiation means. We knew we did not know much. We knew our learning was ahead of us and we went through life, with that stereotypical fearlessness only youth displays. Nothing would stop us, except maybe for summer break. She actually came to see me in Geneva while she was visiting her relatives in Europe. We were the couple to beat.

And then came fall again. She quickly met Peter*. We all loved Peter. They would date for the following three years. Things had changed though; the dynamic was different. I was the only single one left. Yet our friendship only became stronger. Peter even became a great friend of mine—he was in on all the girl-talk and seemed to enjoy it the most. Eventually our tight group of friends came to include a few more people. Mostly Angie’s college best friend, Devi*, became a part of our little trio girl gang. The three of us have done close to everything together. There were ups and downs, trips to Vegas and Europe, and many, many shared bottles of wine. What always impressed me the most about the three of us was that, no matter how different our background and education was, we understood each other. Even when it was very hard, we knew none of it would come between us. Devi and Angie would come get very drunk at the campus pub I worked at every Wednesday during my second year. On Wednesdays, the very empty pub became the craziest of clubs, populated by hundreds of horny nineteen-year-olds and a hotbed for all sorts of inappropriate public behavior. We loved it.

They say bad decisions make good stories. We definitely wrote many stories at the pub and so many more together. Just like Lea at home, and a few other people who entered my life at one point or another, Angie and Devi were my foundation in Vancouver. Due to the frivolous timing of our friendship, they were for the longest time my first response to mornings after. I would call them and tell them everything, to the last excruciatingly personal detail. They laughed with me. Those moments will forever stay with me as the quintessence of being single and happy, surrounded by love. After we graduated, one by one it became harder to see each other. We got frustrated and distant at times. Yet we still manage to catch a girls’ night Thursday, with food, wine and Grey’s Anatomy, and it is like nothing changed. I do not know what my fate with men will be. I do not know if I will know a love like the old man’s. I get worried about love and relationships. I never doubt a true friendship, and that is what Devi, Angie and I have.