thoughts you have when one of your best friends is moving to Ethiopia for 27 months

This is new territory for me. I agreed to be a personal reference and wrote, which I of course think was, a bangin’ letter for my friend to get accepted into the Peace Corps. I didn’t really comprehend at the time that if he gets accepted he’s going to move away for a long time. And it definitely didn’t sink in that he may be moving to a remote location where internet access is crappy and extremely limited. Or that that place would be Ethiopia.

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In the midst of a failed attempt at acroyoga in San Diego. Typical.

I’ve constantly had to remind myself that this isn’t about me, it’s about my friend’s incredible and selfless opportunity to go out and make a difference in the world. But it’s pretty difficult to separate yourself from the situation when this person is one of your best friends and not being able to see him or have regular communication is a depressing thought.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in a situation like this. Two nights before leaving Spain when I studied abroad, I had to say goodbye to my best friend on the trip. The students who went were a bunch of strangers who quickly became the closest of friends and experienced so many things together that it seemed almost impossible to imagine a time when we weren’t a weird little, fun-loving family trying to survive living life to the absolute fullest. This was in a time of my life where I needed a revival and Spain gave me that, along with a friendship I’ve never replicated. I’m sure it’s pretty easy to understand then how heartbreaking it was to say goodbye to my favorite person on that trip. In typical Danielle fashion, I drunkenly cried myself to sleep on the bathroom floor of the hotel. I wasn’t incoherent however. I was sobbing and I felt just as broken as I was before I began the trip because I knew nothing was ever going to be the same after we woke up the next day. But that friend came in the bathroom and sat on the floor with me and told me it was okay, we would keep in touch and I needed to be happy for him for the opportunity he had to move to Puerto Rico because that’s what friends do. That was a pretty sobering statement. That group stayed in touch regularly for a while and then it got longer and longer between meeting up or texting. I miss them every day, but it’s understandable. We all have separate lives and we all had to go back to them. They will always hold a special part in my heart and I will never cease to enjoy reminiscing Spain.

So that taught me something; to be grateful for the experiences you have that make you feel so alive and give you so much joy and whatever you do, do not let the pain of no longer having that jade your memories or cause you to stop chasing a fulfilling life.

And that brings me right back to Michael. He is a friend I can never replace. He met me at a party when I was being a wild and crazy, drunken girl. My friend put him on babysitting duty so she could have fun and not deal with me. He did just that, and never judged me. He has listened to and read a hundred conversations about the exact same thing and has never gotten annoyed with me for needing to vent that one hundredth and first time. He has laughed with me about things nobody else could possibly find funny, traveled across the country with me, supported me in everything I’ve done, has held my hand when I was scared and most importantly gave me his American flag hat because I wanted to keep that as a token of our friendship. He did that while he was dressed as Santa Clause and pulled it out of his “toy sack.” He’s a gem.

As much as it saddens me to send him off to Ethiopia not knowing the next time I will hear from him, I do know that we will pick right back up where we left off. I’m proud to be best friends with somebody as amazing as Michael and I am proud of myself for understanding that just because things change doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

On Saturday when a few of us spent the day together before dropping him off at his hotel, we got matching Alex and Ani (except Michael cause he’s not actually a girl) bracelets of a compass. This bracelet signifies objective, direction and transition.

We will all go in different directions, be there for each other in times of transition and our objective is to be friends forever. Cause that’s what friends do.