Quality Over Quantity
True friends never apart maybe in distance but never in heart~~~Helen Keller
I can be charming. Not Emma Stone-Lupita Nyong’o charming but I do alright. I can be friendly, open, and free, and have been blessed with incredible, ride-or-die, lifelong friends. This said I have always found it curious that my Type A-Tipsy TMI charm doesn’t travel. I have been to over a dozen countries (lived in two), on three different continents, plus numerous cities and yet, I can count on one hand the number of friends I have met and kept from twenty-five + years of travel. Seriously, one hand! There is the lovely, kind Kasline (Paris, 2010), brilliant, world traveler Anna (Paris, 2010), and the intrepid, warm-hearted Rebecca (Florence, 2010) Obviously, my 40th birthday two-month jaunt across Europe was epic in many ways!
Even here, in South Korea, after 4 ½ years, I can count on one hand the friends I have made. Part of this can be chalked up to living in a culture vastly different from my own, lack of language, and the built-in ticking clock of most expat life, and natch Corona! But whatever the reasons, pre and post the ROK, they all add up to a lot of solo time on my hands and keeping my own counsel during those inevitable challenging times on the road. Then again, all this said and done, the friends I have met and kept along my travels have been wonderfully thoughtful women. Quality over quantity, right?!
One such quality friend is Rebecca.
I may be fancier than I am charming---okay, I am definitely fancier than I am charming---and one of my favorite things to do when I travel is choose one high-end, luxurious restaurant, dress to the 9’s, and do it up proper. On my second to last night in Florence this is just what I did. The seafood restaurant I chose wasn’t as high-end as I usually go, but it was a cozy, whimsical place with a gorgeous view of the famed Ponte Vecchio bridge spanning the Arno River and delicious food. Not long after I was seated, almost at the same moment, Rebecca and I noticed one another. We smiled in acknowledgment and then continued to pursue our menus from a few tables apart.
It was Rebecca who sought my eye again. We started talking---casual questions, self-deprecating jokes about being on our own in the restaurant, on our individual trips. It quickly became clear that there was a connection. Rebecca suggested she move to my table. She did and we had a great meal, talking nonstop. We were two adventurous women who enjoyed exploring, a good laugh, and a good bottle of wine. We both had taken time off from jobs that left us restless and dissatisfied---although my new companion was lucky enough to be traveling on her government’s tab.
As we finished up, she suggested we grab a drink at another place. I was all for it but had pre-purchased a theater ticket. A musical based on Dracula was being mounted in a converted villa--- an actual castle! I had stumbled on a notice my first day in town and rushed to buy my ticket, thrilled at the idea of watching a play in such a setting. My plan had been dinner, theater, and a nightcap ---my modus operandi no matter where I am in the world. The run time was long, but I offered to meet up after. She agreed and three hours later we met at a cute open-air wine bar, where we picked up where we left off, chatting and laughing. We closed down the place in the wee hours of the dawn.
Winding down, we walked through darkened cobblestone streets, seemingly two of only a handful of people awake in the slumbering town. When we finally parted, we exchanged information and to this day, eleven years later, we catch up via email every few months.
We’ve both moved---Rebecca from Melbourne to Tasmania, me from New York to South Korea. We’ve both changed careers---officer worker to photographer, bartender to ESL Teacher, but we’ve maintained our connection. And it’s lovely. We will one day meet up face to face again, but until then, I cherish my old school pen pal.
I’ve always been jealous of people who have a lot of friends in far-flung places, imagining all the fun and the savings one could have, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand it’s not about how many but how good. I may be able to count my fellow Hodophiles (a lover of travel) on one hand, but this just means there is more room in my heart for them to spread out and get comfy.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next month where I'll celebrate my favorite holiday and my favorite mom.
In the meantime, be kind to one another, keep on traveling with a feminist eye, and keep on being Feminist AF!