I wondered how much it costs to be rich in friends and how many years and stories and scenes it takes to make a rich life happen.- Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
My Australian friend Amy is here!
Earlier this year when Hannah and I decided to spend two months in Guatemala, I immediately sent word to Australia and within a month Amy and her boyfriend James began planning a Central America backpacking trip. Amy and I had casually discussed a potential South America trip when I was studying in Canberra, and I'm happy we made it happen so quickly.
I don't want to gush, but seriously - I have the greatest friends in the world. I've moved around a lot, written a lot of good-bye letters, grown up and apart from a lot of people. But a handful of friendships haven't changed at all - actually, they've deepened over time and across continents. My family and this handful of friendships are my real roots. I could morph into a full time homeless free lancing world nomad and still feel secure and at home with these people.
And my friends are cool. They are passionate and witty, well-read and sensible, and they take risks and live big. It's fun being jealous of their jobs, their degrees, their houses, their travels. It's fun getting excited about things, getting inspired, together.
You become like the people you interact with. And if your friends are living boring stories, you probably will too.
One of my favorite things is traveling with these friends. Strange lands, foods, and languages create great stories for us to live and retell. During high school Hannah and I got lost in a sketchy London suburb and paid over a hundred pounds for a taxi home so my parents wouldn't know where we'd gone; we jumped fences to escape angry cows in Yorkshire.
Four years later we were on Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia listening to Lebanese tour guide Karim lecture about the local counsel's opinion on feral cats and the breeding habits of koalas.
2009: riding camels at Sydney's Aroma Festival
2010: Grand Teton National Park
My friend Shelley introduced herself to me at a sorority rush party (!) and drove me around Auburn for a year before I got my driver's license; three years later she was driving us around New Zealand's south island where we played with wallabies and climbed glaciers.
2009: the Franz Josef glacier
This past spring break she returned to London with me on an expensive but delightful whim.
2010: Tower Bridge, my favorite bridge of all time
During my year in Canberra, Amy and I bonded over our love of teapots and local markets, got terribly lost in Melbourne at 2am, and consumed large amounts of her hometown's sun dried tomato cheese.
2009: Floriade in Canberra
Now we're drinking Guatemalan tea, eating Guatemalan cheese (not as good as Tilba cheese - go to Australia and try Tilba cheese), wandering through Guatemalan markets, and of course, planning our future adventures. (Organic farms in Eastern Europe or a road trip up Australia's west coast?)
2009: autumn photo shoot on The Australian National University campus
And then there's Dave...
... who convinced me to bike down the world's most dangerous road in Bolivia, who got terribly sick after instigating and winning a llama eating contest, and who discovered and consumed the world's best chicken sandwich with me after we spent the morning in funky Peruvian jewelry and musical instrument shops. Two years later in Bristol there was an amazing Album Leaf concert in an old wooden boat.
And this summer in Wyoming there was cliff jumping into a freezing lake.
And in three weeks Dave will be in Alabama for Christmas! (I may or may not have been looking forward to this particular act of international travel for years.)
In short, traveling enriches my relationships, and my favorite people - including many individuals I've not mentioned in this post - add extra meaning and fun to my travels. I love it. Consider this a belated second Thanksgiving post. (And thanks for putting up with the cheesy!)
'And today, may you hold those in your house close to your body and feel them breathe and take in their remarkable scent and give them your love.'