November10th

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An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, despite the time, the place, and despite the circumstances. The thread can be tightened or tangle, but will never be broken. ~ Chinese Proverb

 

I came upon this quote the other day while spending some time on Pinterest. And it so eloquently and simply put into words the feelings I have about my friends and acquaintances. Having moved across the ocean with not a friend on this continent, it means even more to me now.

I think of all the amazing people I’ve met here in Belgium, and by what chance I just happened to meet them.

I can trace the majority of my Belgian/Flemish friends back to a single person, my downstairs neighbor, Charlotte. She was my neighbor for 13 months in an apartment that I happened upon quite by accident – I was actually looking at another apartment on a lengthy “possible apts list” I had made and when I decided to not take a particular apartment, I thanked the landlord and began to make my exit when he mentioned that he had another apartment not far away. I was already a bit discouraged from all the overpriced, unkempt apartments and I was *THIS CLOSE* to resigning myself to giving up! But I went with him to see this apartment – an apartment not even on my list – an apartment I never saw online. It was the apartment I took, it was the apartment I lived in for 13 months, it was the apartment I loved, it was the apartment in which I met Charlotte. Charlotte introduced me to all of her friends and we all became quite close – honestly I don’t think I could mention all of them here; there are so many. They made my year in Leuven unforgettable, and we all get along so well that I find it more than a coincidence that we were all brought together.

 

I think of all the friends I’ve made that have now dispersed back to their respective homes in the world: Lithuania, Turkey, Russia, US, Bulgaria, Romania, France, Ireland…It’s simply spectacular that we all met and have the honor of calling each other friends.

An even crazier story is how met someone I now easily call one of my greatest friends – Laurel:

It was orientation day at KUL, a day I actually considered skipping since I had already missed the first 4 days; however, this day was the opening day and we were to receive a speech and something or other. Naturally, i did not know anyone at KUL orientation at this point, and I honestly wasn’t too sure where to even go. I arrived at what I assumed was the correct building and stood aimlessly outside as the crowd made its way inside the recently unlocked and opened doors. I saw someone sitting across the street, seemingly as uninterested as I was (haha), and I went to ask her if this was the right building for orientation – she said yes in perfect American English. I asked her where she was from and she said California/TX and I said I was from Louisiana – then she shared she’d studied in New Orleans for a few years at Tulane! We chatted for a bit, amazed at what a small world it truly is. We introduced ourselves and said we’d we would meet up after the speech – we didn’t. As soon as I got home I did some major facebook stalking to find someone named Laurel or Laura or Laurie (I’m bad with names…) who was from TX, studied in NOLA and CA and was now at KUL. Well…as a master at Facebook, I somehow found her. The rest is history. She became my closest confidante and aid in Belgium, a role I hope I occasionally returned. Through Laurel I met Tinne (from Belgium) and Sevan (from France) [as well as other great people] – that I am honored to call my friends. Laurel met her husband, Daniele, while in Belgium. I was honored to have been present at their small and intimate wedding – the room was so full of love and appreciation and respect that it felt tangible. It gave me hope for true love – sometimes it’s an ocean away and you don’t even know it. In so many ways, the amount that Laurel’s presence and friendship helped me through some very dark times is simply inexpressible – for that I feel we were meant to meet.

I’m not a religious person, and I don’t believe there are actually fates out there trimming threads of life or guiding our destiny; however, I do believe that we meet people for a reason at a time when we need them most. Each of them teaches us a lesson and helps us grow as a person. Whether the relationships are painful or happy, they teach us something about who we are, who we can be, who we need to be…

I have the same feeling about love these days – I’ve stopped worrying about finding someone or dating someone. I’ve been single for 17 months now and honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever been happier. I’m sure there’s someone out there that I will one day call my soul mate, but I’m not searching for that person – I’ll let time play a role.

<side note> Aristophanes, a character in The Symposium by Plato, told a story of ancient humans with 4 arms, 4 legs, and 2 faces. These humans tried to climb Mount Olympus to challenge the gods, and Zeus feared their strength. So as punishment Zeus split them in half and cursed them to spend their lives searching for their lost half. Hence: soul mates. <end side note>

So next time you meet someone or next time you come upon a fork in the road – maybe it’s meant to be. If you’re sitting on the couch, you won’t be meeting any new people that will change your life. Take some risks, take some chances – I did, and I don’t have a single regret about it.

 

– Ross

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