September 18th, 2012 was a weird and exciting day for so many reasons. It was the day that I left my small town in Southern Ontario to venture out into the world on my own. It was also the day I had to say goodbye to my best friend Andrea. Our goodbye consisted of lazing about on her couch, watching something on television (probably Master Chef), eating our favourite Peanut m&m’s chocolate, and of course, lots of tears. It was going to be okay, we would see each other in exactly one year from that date if things went as planned, which of course they never do.
I had only just met Andrea a year and a half before we had to say goodbye as I left for Australia but we had become inseparable from day one. We met through mutual friends at Brock University and when I had met her I was in desperate need of a summer job so she suggested I apply to work with her at Twenty Valley Golf and Country Club. Lucky for me, I got the job and it was that summer at the golf course that brought us so close together. We quickly realized we were the exact same person. We share similar outlooks on life, we are both very optimistic, and we both have an undying love of travel… and Olive Garden and their endless breadsticks. I remember how sad I was when I was finishing my last year at university and Andrea went backpacking through Southeast Asia without me. Of course I didn’t expect her to put her travel plans on hold while I was in school but I was still sad that she was seeing the world while I was stuck daydreaming about it in a lecture hall at Brock.
I know it may sound cliché but you really do realize who your true friends are when you’re living abroad. It is the people who make an effort to stay in contact with you and are genuinely interested in your life while you’re gone. My first piece of mail in Australia was from Andrea and I remember how excited I was when I received it. I felt like a little kid again checking the mailbox to find something addressed to me, running upstairs, and opening it. It was a card from Andrea with a little silver ring inside that had two peace signs on it. She knows me too well. The entire year I was gone she always made an effort to send me things, call me on FaceTime/Skype, send me messages etc. It never actually felt like we were apart.
Seeing as how Andrea and I are so much alike, it came as no surprise when she told me that she had applied for an internship to work with the YMCA in South Africa. If she got the internship (which I knew she would), she would be leaving in June 2013 and returning home in late November of the same year (which is twenty-six days from this post). I was a little bit sad because this meant that when I got home from Australia in September, she wouldn’t be there. Even though I was sad (because I was being selfish), I knew she needed to take the opportunity and go. I knew she suffered from wanderlust as bad as I did. I encouraged and supported her and couldn’t have been happier for her when I found out she was accepted and she would be embarking on her own journey. This meant that we would be officially apart for just over fourteen months, which is a long time when it comes to your best friend and other half.
Now it is officially November 1st, the first day of Movember, and I don’t even know if my best friend will still be coming home on her scheduled return date of November 26th. She wants to stay in South Africa. She just told me that the thought of returning home makes her cringe. She doesn’t feel like she’s done everything she is meant to do there. As much as I miss her, I hope she finds a way to stay. I don’t blame her for not wanting to come home because I know how much more is out there and how much returning home sucks. I also don’t mind having a reason to hop on a plane and spend some time gallivanting around South Africa with her.
I am so proud of her for following her dreams and taking such an amazing opportunity. I know that the South African YMCA doesn’t want to lose her and I am sure her new South African boyfriend doesn’t want to either. I just wish I could be there with her as she explores such an amazing country. It is a weird feeling though, as much as I am lonely and wish she were here, I also know that we are both exactly where we need to be right now. I feel content with everything because we honestly still talk every single day. It only makes sense that my best friend would be living abroad and traveling the world too. In fact, two of my other very close friends are doing similar things as well. My friend Lindsay is living in Nelson, British Columbia and my friend Megan is living in South Korea… I guess you could say I am a bit of a loner these days (as I sit in bed writing this post on a Friday night). These girls are my closest friends for a reason… they inspire me, they don’t settle for average. I can’t tell you how motivated I am right now to visit them all.
If Andrea does find her way home on November 26th, you can bet I will be waiting in the International Arrivals area of the Toronto Airport for her. If not, I will just have to keep having movie nights with her little brother in their basement as I save all of my money to go see her. When your best friend is a traveler too, you have to do your best to stay in touch. Be happy for them, be inspired by them, love and support them. Your paths will cross again… so don’t be sad; it only opens even more opportunities for travel to distant places and wild adventures. If you are a traveler than it only makes sense that your best friend would be too.