Refriending in Hong Kong

Refriending in Hong Kong

Almost a decade had passed since we lost Michael during a friendship divorce.  Having met through a mutual friend, one of our best friends, we had spent nearly everyday together for several months, Michael, LOCAVORista and our mutual friends were inseparable…until we were separated.  There were legitimate reasons that brought it all down, but when the friendship divorce happened I let Michael go, when I probably shouldn’t have.  I always wondered what he thought about the abrupt end of our friendship, but having enough ex-girlfriends to know that such conversations don’t happen, I never really expected to find out.  I never thought I would see him again, it was over.

When we finalized plans to visit Hong Kong I sent him a message via facebook.  I was anxious about sending it, worried about what he would think, or worse, being ignored.  Here was a person that I had enjoyed spending a considerable amount of time with, but hadn’t spoken to in a decade.  Were my memories correct, had we been friends?

Within minutes of sending the message to Michael he responded, mocking the formal tone I had taken, not knowing Michael +10 years was like.  He even welcomed us to stay with him, to which we agreed, expecting to spend a night or two.  In the end we stayed for almost a week, essentially our entire trip to Hong Kong.

Standing at a crosswalk on Nathan Road, we saw him from behind.  Ten years after last seeing him, in a city full of lookalikes, I recognized him.  First potential diaster averted.  Sitting on a rail with two people, drinking a beer, I was relieved he hadn’t joined AA or something equally sober.  After surprising him, he introduced us to his friends sitting next to him.  LOCAVORista shook their hands, but I didn’t bite, these weren’t his friends…these were hotel touts I had seen here before.  We laughed as LOCAVORista finished introducing herself, to be told, “I don’t actually know them.”

After getting to his apartment we had a beer and started catching up.  It was then that I realized, when he last saw us, LOCAVORista and I weren’t together.  In fact, I got to know both LOCAVORista and Michael at the same time, but our friendship paths couldn’t be more different.  Though the three of us rested in the comfort only old friends have, there was a lot of catching up to do.

“To get it out of the way…” Michael paused, all of us knowing what he was going to ask, “what’s up with our [old friend]?”  We gave him a quick rundown and he said he missed him.  He told us his side of the story and referred to him as his best friend at the time.  Getting that out of the way, I realized we could channel this friend, that this was the moment we had waited for to share the best gift we had been given.  I tore through my bag like a suspicious customs agent to find a tiny envelope and handed it to Michael.

He opened the envelope and was lost in laughter.  The envelope contained a small piece of laminated paper that reads, “Shit, we’ve got a situation.  What would [friend] say?”  Inside are a bunch of tape covered quotes, that we could pull off in a moment of need to know what he would say.  We joked about the person that would send such a gift, the absolute hilarity of it, and the moment called for a quote.

We told Michael to pull one piece of tape, ourselves never having pulled one.  It took several minutes before he did, to read to us, “While humiliating, crying often helps.”  Knowing the writer we couldn’t disagree, and laugh.  Here, ten years later and thousands of miles away, we were thinking of him, remembering good times and rekindling friendships we made through him.

It is rare in life that you get to do a relationship autopsy, let alone bring new life to the presumed dead ones.  We know what happened to drive us apart, the situations at the time, but it is refreshing to know that the people you remember fondly are just as great in reality as they are in memory.  It is even rarer that you get to apologize for your part in the story and let bygones be bygones.  When this trip is done, the memory of a week with Michael in Hong Kong will stand the test of time, as our friendship will.

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Comments

» Donna :
Jul 16, 2011

I love this story … because we’ve all been there, though we’ve not all had the opportunity to “refriend.” But I can relate to that anxious feeling of whether your friendship from then will feel the same. And sometimes friends do just grow apart … not so much a divorce as a separation of ways. And that’s okay too … it is part of life.

I have said to many people lately that my friends are my most treasured asset … I can’t “will” them to anyone when I die nor can I cash them in … yet they are more valuable than any of my material possessions. Kudos to you for making the initial contact with Michael … it will be one of your best memories of your travels.

Donna

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thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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