Sometimes it are the small things that you cherish the most. I always try to look forward to rather little treats that can cheer up my such ordinary working week and provincial life. My weekly highlight is calling the States. Trying to keep in touch with the people that I have encountered during my American adventure is not always that easy. Facebook has of course pushed it a bit further but it is still the oldfashioned phone that does the trick.
The lucky person that I call once a week to catch up is H. We started out at Hoover High in homeroom. She shares the same first syllable of our last name and so she became one of the first familiar faces to meet in the mornings. We shared 15 to 20 minutes in the mornings listening to the general announcements and picking up reportcards or finding a red or pink carnation from a secret admirer amongst the Hoover Boys. H became the caffeine that I lacked during my rather fast breakfasts.
Making friends in a strange country as a teenager is quite a challenge. You now that you will leave after one year and that putting energy in friends is rather an adventure heading to an unknown destination. I was cautious in the beginning of letting my fences down. But H managed to make them go down rather fast. By week three she knew that I had broken up with S at the time before getting on the plane, that I did not like math (she took advanced calculus if I am not mistaken!!!) and that I was so good at overreacting.
We exchanged phonenumbers by the end of month one and she was the sister that I did not end up having in one of the three guestfamilies. One of our rather long phonecalls was the one at electionnight when Bill Clinton got elected. We got on for I don't know how long why he would or would not be a good president.
H then already had triggered a soft spot in the friendship alley. We ended up going to ballet recitals, drinking softdrinks at the Mall, searching for new cool clothes, buying together my first compact powder (so that I finally really got into the girlsroom during lunch time where the important newsitems were broadcasted in front of the mirror!), going out on fridays for a hamburgers at Fridays (and H thaught me that you don't have to tip when you are not happy about the service), going to church together (one of the rather hard things to explain to the average European who thinks that church is boring) and watching the latest movie releases at the local movie theater!
We finally ended up in rather funny looking dresses at the dancefloor of our Senior Prom. That night I realised that she was for sure a very special friend. By then we knew where we were heading for: she to Ohio State and I Leuven! We threw together our caps in the air at graduation after she gave a very 'serious sounding speech' as valedictorian! (smartest girl of our class, she will hate me for telling this but is a fact!)
Now 16 years later we still try to keep the bond of unconditionally friendship going strong. It is not easy. There are moments that the distance kills you. The hardest time ever was when H asked me as a bridesmaid and I did not manage to go because of work. There are moments that you wonder when it will come to an end. Every time when we see each other it is hard because you never can predict when there will be a next time!
H and I have for sure went our own ways. I ended up becoming a teacher (as predicted in placement and carreer tests taken at Hoover) and she became a lawyer à la Alley McBeal!! Not that she has the same nutty behaviour but she has got the spirit! I envy her life once in while that when I call her after nine at her office that she is still going strong! I imagine her sitting there behind her desk and looking so professional! And yes, I sometimes end up talking to her answering machine because she is such a busy bee. She feels sorry and bad about this but I don't really mind. It is part of her job description and just hearing her recorded voice can make me smile!
During those calls we try to catch up and being honest with each other. We end up asking each other questions that we don't dare to ask others. It seems like the distance makes it eassier. H still manages to be damn honest with me on every subject. Also she is one of the few people that I truely believe when she makes a compliment or comment.
Wrapping up a piece about this girl is not that easy because I could go on for hours. I just know that I need those phonecalls to get through the week. I can stay focussed and push my limits a bit further then I imagined. But most of all H reminds over and over that friendship can go the distance!!!