On the eve of my good friend Diana's vacation to visit me in Ohio (from California - she must really like me!), I decided I would take a moment to write about how we met.
On a cold, dusty night, many many years ago....JUST KIDDING! We actually met at Paddock Field Flats in Falmer, Brighton, on campus of the University of Brighton in the UK. I was taking a nap after arriving from my long flight from Cleveland, via Charlotte and London, followed by a train ride, taxi ride, and hike up a hill with my luggage. I found myself alone, scared, unable to connect to either my parents or the outside world, and I was exhausted. So, I did what any young girl would do: I cried myself to sleep. I woke up to voices in my flat, two girls, Diana and Debra. They arrived at the same time and were playing cards in the kitchen. I immediately decided that Diana would be longtime friends: she was wearing a winter coat with the hood up, much like I always do, and had a way about her that told me she was good people I would cherish forever.
I was so very right. From that day on I forged a friendship with one of the most amazing women I have ever met. One of the kindest, sweetest, and most intelligent people I could ever know. Ms. Diana is such a blessing in my life in more ways than one. Just 2 weeks after I met her, my grandmother died. I was heartbroken. Lost. All I wanted to do was go home, but that was not an option. Through my grief I forged relationships with the people I was with that I cannot ever replace.
Chrystal was right by my side after I screamed (well, more like wailed), and just sat there with her hand on my shoulder until I could get the words out to tell her what happened. Megan, Megan and Jared decided I could not sleep alone that night and contrived a way to sleep in my room with me so I would not be alone. They're still with me in my heart every time I close my eyes and remember that night. Day after day, Diana was there with me to remind me that there were things I needed to do. I needed to visit Paris, Scotland, Ireland, Bath, and so many more places. She reminded me that I needed to keep moving not only for my sake, but for my grandmother's memory. This love and friendship I will cherish forever.
Diana and I did almost everything together when we lived in Brighton. We did laundry together, ate at the same pub every Sunday for the roast (what I miss most!), travelled together, read the same books, drank the same Strongbow, and so many other things. She was my ally, my rock, my friend and I cannot ever thank her enough for that.
Once we came home, it was the internet that kept us together. Facebook, Twitter, and email. These were the ways we kept in touch. Occasional phone calls/texts were special treats (3 hour time difference makes random phone calls difficult to arrange). When I went to visit my brother a couple summers ago, she came down to see me. Now, she's coming out for a vacation in beautiful, scenic, chilly Ohio! :)
Had I not gone to England to further my education, I would not have these wonderful people (and others who were not mentioned in this short story) in my life. Whenever I talk to students bound for college, I always tell them "MAKE SURE YOU STUDY ABROAD!!" I tell them to take every opportunity to experience the world as they possibly can. I want them to go everywhere, do everything that they can while they're young so that when they get done with college, they have those experiences and those relationships to go forward into life with.
When I count my blessings, I count the people I shared this portion of my life with. I am so lucky that I have Sam and Stu and their new adventures with baby Reid. I am so lucky that I have Theresa and her new husband Scott. I am blessed to have Diana and her trips to visit (that someday I will be able to go on myself to see her). I am so lucky to have Shelby, Jared, Megan, Megan, Misha, Julie, Alina, Constance (bless her), Kirsten, Kaylin (Diana's BFF who visited us while we were there), Matt, Joel, Jackie (from studying in PR), Debbie (from PR too), B. Sue (PR), Josefina (PR), and so many others from my adventures abroad.
So what I hope you draw from this quip is that when you get the chance, go for it. Don't think twice. Take every opportunity. Live for it! I did, and I am ever so grateful that I did.