On my final morning in the town of Sighisoara, I opened up my laptop at around 10:00am, minutes after finishing off a mediocre breakfast that consisted of a couple of eggs and stale toast. The first thing I did was to log into my email account where I scrolled through the many messages I had received during the night. And then, after only a few seconds, I stopped scrolling. One particular message had quickly stood out among the others and grabbed my attention so unexpectedly that I had no choice but to read its contents immediately.
The email was from a high school friend I hadn’t spoken to in a few years and as I read every word ever so carefully, I instantly became aware that, because of this one message, my day, perhaps the following few days, perhaps the rest of my trip in Europe, would no longer be the same.
The content of my friend’s email was nothing shocking nor was it filled with bad news. It was just a simple email written to say hello, to give me a quick update about his life and to let me know that he still considers me to be a good friend despite our long lapses in communication.
Maybe you’ve received a similar email before. So you’ll hopefully know what I’m talking about when I say that my friend’s email was the kind of email that makes you stop whatever you’re doing and wonder why you haven’t kept in touch more often. Then, as the tingling sensation on your skin increases in intensity as you think back to all of the good times you had spent together, you also begin wishing that you could just call up that friend this very evening and then meet him or her for a couple of beers or a meal at the Town Spa (a well-known restaurant in my hometown).
Yet this feeling must not be confused with sadness. Far from feeling sad upon reading this message, I actually felt a moment of happiness, an extraordinary moment in fact, one that no medieval Transylvanian town could ever offer me.
And as soon as I finished reading the email for the third, or maybe the fourth time, I just laid back in my bed and spent some time deep in thought, quietly contemplating my life, the decisions I’ve made, the people I’ve met and the path I’m currently on.
I love to travel. I know that those few words make up a childishly simple sentence but I really feel there is no other way to say it. But just because I do love to spend my time learning about the world with my own eyes, it does not mean that I don’t spend some of my time wishing I was somewhere else, doing something else, surrounded by those with whom I shared so much during my earlier years.
Life on the road can be lonely at times, which is why such a wonderful surprise of an email from an old, wonderful friend can have such an effect on me. I can’t explain how it feels to know that such a person still considers me a friend even though I haven’t seen him in so damn long.
I’m not really sure the point of this post or where I was trying to go with this, but as soon as I left Sighisoara, I already knew that my time in Sibiu, my next destination, was going to be different. I was not at all interested in wandering around another town, taking photos or doing anything that travelers tend to do.
I just wanted to rest, to stop exploring, to take things easy and to not think about being a traveler. It was as if the email I had received made my travels, for a short time, seem somewhat silly, as no matter how many countries I visit, no matter how many people I meet, little can match the feeling of knowing that some connections we make, especially those made and solidified during our youth, will survive the challenges of growing older and heading off in opposite directions and ultimately, end up lasting a lifetime.
During the three days I spent in Sibiu, I did nothing. I was not a traveler at all. And I loved every minute of it. I really was happy, glowingly happy, just knowing that even with the choices I’ve made, choices that have naturally taken me far away from those I once knew best, I was still considered to be a friend.
Note: I would also like to send out a huge dose of gratitude to the trio of Royce, George and Shrey who allowed me to crash at their apartment in Sibiu during my stay. I simply could not have asked for a kinder, more hospitable group of hosts.
Any tales of friendship to share? Any seemingly lost friendships that re-surfaced?