Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Friends for a reason

April 04. I was at school at NYC and had decided to quit the program I was in, cold turkey and come back home to my parents in Tokyo. It took me all of 12 days to decide, get the visa, buy the air ticket, pack up a home I’d built over the last 2 and a half yrs and leave, knowing fully well I would have next to no social life once I moved. To add to all that, I had no clue of what I’d be doing. I’d visited Tokyo earlier and it did not strike me as an English zone. It isn’t one yet.

But let me not get ahead of myself here.

I wasn’t blogging then. I did write but wasn’t really posting anywhere. I did lurk on a few blogging sites, thus coming in touch with a few ppl. I’d usually interact with them online for a bit and then if we struck a chord, take it off line. I made quite a few friends in this process.

Beanie too was one such friend. He wrote poems that weren’t traditional rhymes and followed no rules. Just the same, they expressed whatever he was feeling at that moment. I still carry one of it in my wallet. I'd told him I was printing it out and putting it there.

Those were carefree conversations. About poems and feelings and life in general and the online world and the people that inhabited it and how close some came to their real beings even when they were running away from them. Online world offers an anonymity that makes it so easy for one to be just that – one.

So when I decided to move, I got quite a mixed bag of reactions, most of them not too good. In the midst of that, his words, to just go and learn about another culture and to see how I could imbibe it best, stood out. When the going got tough, this toughie (yours truly), did try to get going and on some days, failed miserably. As I did on the day, I had set aside for my packing. Instead of going to the lab to wind up all my stuff and tidy up the desk and all, I sat in my studio and organized my clothes into piles. One pile that was coming with me to Nippon also needed to be ironed. That's what I tackled that day and that's what got me crying eventually.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a homebody. While I do have chores around the house and I love to muck around in the kitchen, these are things I do interspersed with my life of school and lab and I am hoping one day, work. So quitting a program not knowing what next was never part of a well thought out plan. Impulsive I am and I had gone a few steps too far this time as I realized, ironing shirt after shirt.

So, when in the evening I sat talking to him, something in my voice gave away and I just sat and bawled on the phone. I’ve yet to repeat that stunt and I hope I never do. Trooper that he is, he waited for me to calm down and when I showed no signs of it, he just let me have a good cry and then asked me to breath. Whadya know, I don't know how to breathe to relax. I still don't know, though that day I did get a clue. With him counting on the other end of the line, we kind of did the whole deep inhale count exhale count thing and it worked to calm me down a bit.

He was the last person I spoke to before I flew out and we kept in touch for a little while after I moved. Soon after coming to Tokyo, I started volunteering in the lab I am in now. I applied to the graduate program I am in and got accepted and also got on the Japanese govt. fellowship. Around this time I also lost touch with my friend. I guess my need for him was over. He made sure I made the transition, got settled and then left.

Though I would not say that I miss him, every once in a while, I do take that poem out of my wallet and read it again. I've never made the attempt to memorize it. I guess I need that touch of paper to make that memory a bit more tangible. Sometimes, when I’ve tucked myself in for the night, and I am lying there not yet ready for slumber, I can hear him count…

9 comments:

Captain Nemo said...

Very nice and thoughtful thanksgiving to a true friend... I liked the idea of hyperlinking that article about the need based entry and exit of people in our lives...

Apy said...

I dunno... neva actually heard of something like this before but definitely felt it at times... infact after reading this, I was able to relate to a number of incidents which have happened.. Friends, who have moved on and the impact that they have left.... yeah, i was mad at them for leaving me like that but i guess, with time, the pain went away. Now, once in a while, I think of that time and smile

cheti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cheti said...

billy !

beautiful and thoughful !

"friends for a reason" as you put it .. are real. THe only problem is .. the feeling of "for a reason" might not be mutual ! Some one might feel that its just "friends" and not "friends for a reason"

parikrama said...

Billy, that was sublime.. (and) Now, herez somthing ridiculous :

"Friendship is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see, but only you can feel its warmth."

Shankar said...

This brings back memories. People just stop sometimes - don't they?

I'm in the verge of shifting to another country soon. Relationships will break then I guess, like it has in the past.

It's nice to see your writing now and then :)

bilbo said...

thanks capn

and apy, I don't think its painful, just a little confusing.

Chet,
Just friends don't lose touch. They keep in touch. I've known people for ages now and we've kept in touch. We email maybe once in 6 months but we pick up from where we'd last left.

Whiner.
No clue what to say.

Shankar,
Moving should not break friendships. Especially not in today's connected world. Take care.

Bluehues said...

hello Bilbsie,
it was simple to read but yet so profound.. so often we do make friends and move on where we make 'other friends'. sometimes the transition is easy, sometimes non. sometimes just 'one person' is ready to move, the other non...
enjoyed every bit of the blog.

Santa said...

Friends are like blessings, they are there when you need them.... This is such a lovely read, and I'm sure all of us have similar experiences, where someone, somewhere is so nice to us that, the memory of that moment never fades, even if the person is no longer a part our life....
Really lovely