Moving to a new country means rebuilding a life. You find new ways of doing things, work with new colleagues, construct a new identity.
It's been ten months since I moved to Hanoi and having friends was one of those things I needed to get back to living a normal life.
I discovered that having people to see on work-free days is necessary to feel like I belong to this new place.
In Andrea Buchanan's book, "Note to Self: 30 Women on Hardship, Humiliation, Heartbreak, and Overcoming It All", she writes,
In the end, we’ll all become stories. Friends are the family we choose to write ourselves into each other’s lives.
Whose stories are you writing into your life?
Friendships deepen our life experiences
Our connections with others bring information about their worlds, expose us to narratives outside of ours. To them, we can freely give and openly receive. Friendships may be the source of guidance on where to go, what to do.
Through online and work connections, I finally have a small group of people I can call friends. It completely changed my experience of living here in Hanoi.
One thing we have in common is our love for Vietnamese food. While we feast on a warm bowl of noodles, we listen to what's going on in our jobs, relationships, and where we want to be next.
Talking to strangers is okay
Before finding new friends, we all are strangers to one another.
And when we become friends with these strangers, we can freely tell each other a summary of our lives. Often, they readily accept it.
New friends are those we meet at a particular trajectory in our lives where they have NO clue of who and where we were, what we have achieved and failed at.
Finding real friendships as an adult is a hit-or-miss. The schedules don't match, people go on trips often, and personalities don't get along. In this aspect, I feel a little lucky.
There is a phenomenon in plants called indeterminate growth. A plant never stops growing its leaves, stems, and roots as long as the necessary resources are present.
Friendships need time to grow. When they are given time, they can develop without end.
Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy's 17-year-old friendship something to aspire to, but not all of us will ever get to. Their story is in Patchett's book, "Truth & Beauty". It's part of the list of books I recommend.
Friendships need our care and attention. At times, we need to find out how the other person is doing, checking in often for no reason but to find out.
Anything we put our awareness to is magnified and we tend to place more care and love into them especially when they enhance our lives.
There's no history necessary, only a plan when and where to meet next. It's simply the telling of one's present life and taking the time to listen.
I recently posted about old friendships here.
How does it feel like to live in house on water? Read my post about Cai Beo Floating Village here.