Sunday, April 3, 2011

Familiar Friend

There comes a time where the people you meet consistently are no longer strangers, they are no longer new people who’s personalities, attitudes and opinions you don’t know, rather you embrace and are accepting of. There is a point at which these people become your friends and their presence is familiar and comforting. Last weekend my Croatian cousin, who lives in London, came to visit me. Family provides yet another level of familiarity based on an innate sense of connection through heritage. However, his visit made me realise that I now have another very dear familiar friend.

I imagine that a few people might be envious of my new friend. She’s certainly attractive there is no doubt about that, so many people think so. Yet, she’s also very intelligent as she has a deep understanding of art and literature. She’s uber fashionable, always chic and has this cosmopolitan cultural aura about her. She loves nothing better than to take life slowly sitting endlessly in a cafe, bistro, or brassier. Best of all, she loves good quality French food, from fruit and vegetables, cheese, bakery and delicatessen delights to butchery. Not to mention she loves wine also. She sounds awesome...that’s because she is.

 I’d like for you to meet my friend Paris! We’ve finally become good friends, and I’d like to think we’re familiar with each other now.

My cousin had visited Paris many times before coming last weekend. He’s good friends with Paris also, and he absolutely adores her. So when he, Paris and I had the weekend to ourselves, there was no insistence by either he or I to show off our incredibly hot friend. No, we just enjoyed her company and in actual fact we let her show us her natural charm. From the little known contemporary gallery on the top floor of the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs Elysse, to bunkering down in the covered terrace of a cafe enjoying a ‘vin’ whilst watching people in the torrential rain as it started and stoped, taking a walk around ‘Le Marais’ and learning all about 1676 and the importance of butter, to visiting the Independent Winemakers Expo to determine what regions suited our pallets the best, finally finishing with doing what Paris does best, and that’s promenading in the sun not really going anywhere but enjoying the surrounds.

It was during this time that I had realised what good friends that Paris and I had become. Everyone knows that she didn’t make it easy for me to befriend her in the beginning. Although, I knew that persisting with her was worth it. She warmed to me as I warmed to her.

My cousin and I were on the train when he asked me if we were going in the right direction. You see normally my cousin is the one you directs and leads the clan that he’s with when he’s with Paris. On this occasion though, it seemed that Paris and I were taking the lead. “Yes, I think so” I said. “We’ll find out at the next stop whether we’re going the right way”. Sure enough we were. It then dawned on me that I now don’t consciously read signs anymore, I glance at them and subconsciously read them. Paris and I have become familiar to the extent that I implicitly know which direction I should be travelling with her.

Paris has also given me a sense of confidence when I’m with her. Confidence in that I can anticipate her moves and what she’s likely to do. This is most evident with her traffic. When I first arrived, I would only cross at the pedestrian crossing and patiently wait for the little green man to guide me across the street (although as I came to realise, this doesn’t always guarantee you a safe passage). Now though, I confidently stride across the street at any point in the road, as a Australian friend who visited this weekend would attest, and who I accidently left standing on the other side of the road more than once like a poor sailor shipwrecked on an island longingly looking across the sea of crazy Parisian drivers. Paris has also given me the confidence to cycle her streets and cross three lanes of a major arterial so I can make a left turn remembering that when I do I need to stick to the far side of the road.

We’ve reached that point of familiarity where she recognises me from a distance now. My local free Metro newspaper man greets me friendly every morning with a sense of recognition as he hands me my paper. I thank him with a big smile, knowing he’ll smile and say hello with that same look of recognition tomorrow morning as well.

Other friends of Paris have also become familiarly recognisable. As good friends do, they introduce you to friends of friends. Running along the left bank of the Sein in the glorious Saturday morning sunshine I spot another female runner approaching me. However, unlike the usual Parisian female jogger in her flappy yoga pants, maybe carrying her handbag (yes, I’ve seen it), barely raising her heart rate to work off a baguette let alone the croissant she’ll surely have, this runner I can see is serious. She spots me also, she too recognises me (as being serious), we smile familiarly at each other and raise our hands to say hello to one another as we pass.

Our friendship has grown now to the point where I’m comfortable in her company. No longer when I walk with her down her many streets in her many districts not sure of how they all interconnect do I feel like I’m wearing a slightly ill-fitting jacket where the sleeves are a little long. Now, I’m wearing a comfy perfectly fitting coat and we’re strolling along together happily knowing that if I take a right and then a left I’ll be close to that Metro, which means I can take that line, change over at that stop to get that other line so I can get to that restaurant.

Like all good friends who help you learn and understand more about yourself, and who unwittingly assist you to grow as a person, Paris has taught me some valuable lessons in our albeit short friendship. She has importantly taught me patience. Patience sitting in a cafe, standing in a line to be served, when interacting with people and simply when strolling her streets. Paris doesn’t do anything quickly, she prefers to take her time. Be assured though, that she’ll get things done, but you need to be patient.

She has also taught me to appreciate more fully the precious quality of life. Paris starts her days later and finishes her evenings leisurely. No longer do I have to fill every available waking moment with ‘must-dos’. Rather she has taught me to slow down and embrace my surroundings, take it all in, relax and enjoy some down time just for myself.

Best of all, Paris is an exceptionally sociable girl. She is accepting of new people and new experiences. Consequently she has quite naturally and gently encouraged my confidence and enthusiasm to meet new people and try fresh encounters.

For all these things, and no doubt many more that I am yet unaware of, I am grateful that Paris and I have become such familiar friends so quickly. A friendship that will surely grow stronger and more deeply as time passes.
Taliya & Paris BFF!

1 comment:

  1. I feel so sad and alone. How could you have forsaken me so?