18 years ago my friend Stefaan was spotted on campus with a new girlfriend. Our whole group of friends buzzed about this tiny German girl. Nobody has ever talked to her, nobody knew much about her. One morning, a couple of days later she walked into our studio, looking for him. I was the only one working there at the time and she introduced herself as Nanna. We started talking and in just 15 minutes we became friends.
3 years later Stefaan left for Stellenbosch, a 2 hour plane trip from us and the two of us were left in Pretoria. We both moved out of our parental home and a new phase began. We went to movies together, we went to concerts, we ate heaps of ice cream - we became best friends.
2 years on Stefaan moved back to Pretoria and as I watched their relationship crumble, my heart nearly broke. How could two such great people whom I both love not be together? How could this end in such a mess? It was not my place to interfere, but I made a decision that I will never regret. I will stay friends with both of them. I will invite them both to my parties, and I will not discuss the one with the other. It worked well - not without small hiccups along the way, but good enough that today I can still count both as 2 of my 3 closest friends.
As the years went by I was with Nanna at Tings and times the night she met Allan who became her husband. I was also at Stefaan's house the evening when he threw a party and a friend brought along Ilse, newly relocated to Pretoria. And we were so blessed when all of them managed to make a connection with Hunter when I eventually met him.
The next few years that followed was some of the best times I have ever spent with a friend. Nanna and I were both bitten by the horse bug at the same time and we spent countless Saturdays out at the stables. We like the same movies, read the same books and love classical music and as the wives of men that understand the need for personal space, we had lots of great times together. When the house next to them came up for private sale, we bought it with their blessing and many afternoons a quick after work coffee or tea was called for. Sometimes it would just mutate into dinner for us 4. We spent countless nights around the braai fires at one of the houses or enjoying Hunter's excellent curries. Between Hunter and Allan they share two of the most wicked minds I know and we had so many laughs. We always joked about "driving home' under the influence while it was a a mere 15 meter walk back home. I cried with her when she had to give away her beloved beagle as Allan's allergies made it impossible and she enjoyed our puppies to the fullest. She and Moya became best friends and we often walked the dogs after work. She also rejoiced with me when we became pregnant although by choice they were not planning children she understood my need to have them. When motherhood became too much for me in those hectic first 3 months she was a shoulder to cry on although she was packing to move. Far away. Way too far away...
On Saturday morning I saw her at the farmer's market - it has been 4 years and 3 months and I did not expect to see her there. I had my dates wrong and thought she was landing the evening, where she did the previous. We both burst into tears and just hugged for ages. They are staying with other friends in a non-dog environment. I saw her for lunch on Monday and we talked and talked for 2 hours. Last night, we had a braai at our home - like in the old days with Dahl (Indian curry lentil soup) for a starter. They left at almost 12 - very late for a weeknight, but we just could not stop talking. We are planning to say good-bye at the farmer's market this Satudray as on Sunday they are leaving for Cape Town and a week later directly back to Calgary Canada. It's been to short and too little, but they have so many people to see in such a short time.
I miss her so much that my heart is aching today. Friendships takes years to build up to this level of trust and love. Yes we Skype, we email. And in some ways it feels like yesterday. But we have both changed so much - and the great part is that we still like each other just as much . After Saturday, I don't know when or if I will ever see her again, but I do know that a true friend stays one, even over thousands of miles.
So today I am thankful for friends, true friends. I am thankful for the years we spent together, but I am also thankful that we managed to stay close for the years that we have been living worlds apart.
Playing along with Thanksgiving Thursdays now at Elyse
And Thankful Thursdays at Laurie
Check out this cute outfit the Lil' Miss got from them - adorable. The Boys got cute Banff bear theamed t-shirts.