In our lives we talk a lot about big loves, grand narratives and sweeping romances. The search focuses on what is called in Spanish our ‘media naranja‘ or half-orange, the perfect other half that fits us vein for vein and skin for skin.
Searching for special is worth holding out for, in a world that too often settles, but as we sigh over one day, maybe dreams, it is easy to forget that love is as perennial as the grass.
It is all too easy to miss the little magics, as we wait for a star to fall with that soul-sent someone’s number attached.
This post is dedicated to a different kind of love, to a friendship, to the girl I laughingly called ‘my half banana’. This is one to say thank you for all she was and is, and will be to me.
We met in a hostel dorm on my first day in Antigua, Guatemala, and I’m almost baffled when I think I could have picked another bed, another hostel, another city. I can’t quite imagine another version of this story unfolding without her. She was the best line to start a chapter on, the best person to share a ‘once upon a time’.
Life lives open handed. The things we never thought to hope for, appear nonetheless. Flowers that bloom by the wayside.
The universe presents us with great gifts in mundane moments. When we met, I was mostly pleased to have arrived, to have got myself a decent bed. I think she was eating a muesli bar… There were no trumpets, no fireworks, and yet before the crumbs had been brushed off the bed, something new had started, a beginning of a beginning birthed.
From there a good thing grew. The earth seemed just a little richer.
We sang badly without ever quite knowing the words, danced with three feet when the beat required two, chuckled through linguistic jumbles, learned to conjugate ‘we’ a bit better than ‘I’. We searched for penguins in Guatemala, giraffes in Honduras, stalked each other shamelessly across countries, laughing out loud though no one else could quite see the joke.
We shared ourselves out generously through surface and depth, cinnamon cookies, cheese cake, meals split and sliced, moments too many to count or long keep. Yet nothing was lost or spoiled in those divisions. The arithmetic was all multiplication, all addition.
I meet many people I like, but not so many who remind me of who I would like to be. She is not me and does it better, reminds me to be my best.
She doesn’t use the word love lightly, but speaks of it with every gesture. She flows with warmth abundant as sunshine, even when it is hell-hot in Leon and the air is all out of breath. She has a faithfulness I’d forgotten to value, a heart for home that carries her loved ones as close as if they were packed in her bag.
She travels with balloons so that she can make kids smile impromptu and by the time I’ve thought of a little kindness, she’s already done it, forgotten it, moved on. She has a kind of beauty that makes the way she looks seem pretty irrelevant.
My half banana, you to me are a treasure. As you head home to start up another life, you carry the best of what was with you. After all, it was having you at the heart, that made it all worthwhile – and you can always be your own journey, your own adventure.
I’m stealing this line, I hope he’ll forgive me: you’re amazing, just the way you are.