As an immigrant, one of the sacrifices I’ve made upon establishing residence in my new country is the loss of the company of my best friends.
I had spent 30 unmarried, child-free years growing up in Jamaica, and thereafter got married, emigrated, and started a family in the US. Interesting as this has been, I bemoan the fact that I’ve left my best mates back home. Some, I had known for at least 10 years; a few of them all my life. Of course, we’ve been able to phone and visit each other over the years, and as technology has improved, Skype and emailing have taken over. But these are no substitutes for a face to face chat or just hanging out.
So I’ve made a few acquaintances since I’ve been here, but I don’t have a sidekick, a confidant, a bosom buddy. Friendship, like fine wine, has to age and mature, and then improve over the years. I find that I might not have the same sense of humor as the next person. I use a lot of innuendo and probably a lot of sarcasm, and everyone around me doesn’t always get that. Besides, there are many cultural differences that seem to stand in the way of cultivating long-lasting relationships.
But immigration, like politics, makes strange bedfellows.
About a year ago I started taking 2 mile walks each day with a co-worker, Tina. Over the past few years since I’d been at this office, I’ve had several walking partners, but they’ve all since moved on to other companies.
On the surface, Tina, who is about 10 years older, and I are two of the most unlikely people to hang out together. Our politics are diametrically opposite. I’m liberal, she’s conservative. She’s Christian, I’m agnostic. She’s very reserved, I tend to be open. I’m married with children, she’s never been married and has no children. There are beliefs that she holds that I find utterly preposterous and she probably feels the same way about some of mine.
What do we have in common? We both like to knit and we both want to exercise. Each day, we meet at about 2:00 pm to do four laps around our building. I usually run 2 miles each morning before work but I still look forward to this additional activity. We encourage each other’s health and wellness endeavors and we get some sun, fresh air, exercise, and good conversation.
We try to be respectful of each other so we don’t go off throwing our beliefs into each other’s faces. The other day she told me that she thought ADHD was just a bunch of nonsense and that it wasn’t around in her day. I had to explain to her that my daughter suffers from ADHD and so do a lot of children. I also let her know that it probably was an affliction back in the day, but that we just looked at those kids at the time as being rude and disruptive. No one really cared back then. I went on to give her specific incidents with my child and what types of treatment she and other kids get at school to calm them down.
The following day she apologized. I don’t hold that against her. I probably thought the same way too before I had children.
At other times, she has confided to me some of her fears at work or some personal things that are happening in her life. I’ve also bounced a few issues off her to get her opinion on a particular matter.
We’ve never had lunch together, never been to each other’s home, never gone out after work.
It is very unlikely that I will be able to joke about the same things with her as I do with my trusty companions from back home. She will probably consider my humor to be a little indecent.
I don’t even remember how we got together in the first place.
But, despite our differences, we continue our walks (and our talks) every day.