Once in a while, you meet someone who becomes an instant confidant and trusted friend. This happened when I met Sarah from Amsterdam. The crazy part was that we actually didn’t meet while I was traveling. She had rented my room on Airbnb for just one night. Her being Dutch, I already knew we would have some cool stories and have a surface bond, as Holland is not only one of my favorite places on Earth, but I have a lot of absolutely amazing friends there. I’ve spent a lot of time in Rotterdam, Leiden, and Amsterdam, and I was actually conceived in Holland (born in Guyana). By the time she was leaving the next day, we had plans to hang out upon my next visit to Amsterdam (which was happening later that year – 2013) and we felt like friends who had known each other for years!
Sarah is one of those people that has a natural and intense charisma that is almost impossible to explain (I will try), but you sense it immediately the moment you meet her. She has a smile, eyes, and exuberance that is almost as intoxicating as it is inviting. If you’re down, she makes you happy. If you’re happy, she makes you want to dance in the streets. When she enters a room, her personality doesn’t conflict or compete with anyone else, but rather brightens up the entire atmosphere and draws you in! And I know I am going a little overboard here, but all of this contributed to our instant friendship. It’s not every day you meet someone like this, someone who honestly restores your faith in the goodness of people and who you just know you can trust with anything.
So after just one day of knowing each other, with maybe a total of an hour of actual hang time, as I was walking to the train station to go to work, and saying bye to Sarah, we decided quite excitedly that we just had to hang out again soon. We kept in touch and she insisted I visit her in Amsterdam, which was perfect because I spent last summer living in Spain, so I was already in Europe and not far away. I took a side trip in August to Leiden (a small town just outside Amsterdam) to visit another great Dutch friend, Tammerly Jane, and that gave us the perfect chance for a reunion. So at the end of my week in Holland, I took the train to Amsterdam and met Sarah at her apartment and we went out for drinks at a local bar close to her apartment. We talked about our summers, my stay in Spain and reasons for being there, traded life stories, and drank really good Savannah Cider. We went back to her place where we continued our chat. Even then I knew that I could tell her my personal stories with trust and get great feedback, including stories I haven’t shared with people I’ve known for years. It was clear she wasn’t just a bar or fairweather friend. So after a night of great conversation, I retired to the couch and slept till the next morning, when I had to get my flight back to Barcelona.
After retuning home from Spain, Sarah was back in NYC so I insisted she stay with me, and I hosted her for the week. The highlight for me was getting to introduce her to all my local best friends, including one of my closest friends, Shannon Gray, aka Shannonigans (a well deserved nickname because Shannon is an honest-talking Southern Belle spitfire who takes no shit and is loyal as hell), one of my oldest and most trusted friends. They bonded like super glue and this was the final affirmation that Sarah was good people! If Shannon likes you, you must have something special, because if she doesn’t like you, you know it! They got along like two peas in a pod, meeting at one of our infamous hangover Sunday brunches. I knew they would mesh well, and sure enough, I think they were besties by the end of brunch!
I think the standard-bearer of a good friend and good friendships is if the people who come into your life can bond with the most important people in your life. I’m in my 30s now and one of the things I treasure most about this part of my life is the value of/in the personal relationships you have with the people around you. When you turn 30, you shed so many of the negative and harmful friends, choosing to spend time with the people who actually matter and who you care about and care about you. So for me, its vitally important that if I let someone into my inner circle, that they also connect with the other people in that circle. With Sarah, it was almost an instinctual, natural bond with the people she met. I Introduced her one night to my friend Lisa, a great friend from Sweden who was living in NYC, and my friend Daeha, who joined us for late late night drinks. Later that week, I introduced her to two of my closest friends, Lily and Kristen, and I think the night Sarah met Kristen (a great friend from my Seattle days – who was meeting her visiting Seattle friends), Kristen’s friend Chance had that same instant and overwhelming feeling of “wow, this girl is fucking rad” and its was like you could reach out and touch the awesomeness in the air, even take a bite out of it!
By the end of her week in NYC, I was sad to see her go. We had so many amazing conversations, Sarah had done a boat load of shopping and asked my opinion many times on her stellar choices, she met so many new people and I even got to make her my famous tofu scramble breakfast! But when it was time to go, I knew this was only the beginning of an amazing friendship and the best times were yet to come!
Since then, Sarah has come back to NYC and either stayed with me or a hotel in the city (she’s always welcome at mine anytime, no matter what!), and every time we meet up, its like a little bit of magic and I always look forward to our stories and we’re so comfortable around each other, that there is nothing I can say or do that will change things. Its a refreshing honesty that I find in so few people. As of this story, Sarah was last in NYC just before I left for my winter 2014 world trip, but we didn’t get to hang that time. But rest assured, I have no doubt we will be hanging out soon and sharing crazy stories!