CIRCLE OF FRIENDS

On an early morning, I sat on my terrace to watch and hear the world. What I heard was not very significant. The sounds of the tree branches and leaves rustling in the breeze, construction work being done a few blocks away, and the ever constant sound of bicycles driving by. It was wonderful.

I saw a woman pushing a stroller and holding a leash attached to a bulldog. She was talking to the baby and the baby was making noises in return. The fun thing was to watch the baby’s legs kick up and down as he/she “talked”. The woman stopped the stroller and was leaning in and talking to the baby. The baby squealed and laughed. And the bulldog’s tail started to wag and wag.

Coming towards the threesome was a woman walking her dog, and I have no idea what kind of dog it was, I just know what is wasn’t. The two women greeted each other and acted as if they knew each other. And the two dogs sniffed each other from head to paws, and both tails were now going like windshield wipers on a stormy day. They never growled or got aggressive with each other. The dogs seemed to be as happy as the two women. 

After a few minutes, the women said goodbye to each other and continued to talk as they walked away. The dogs gave each other one last sniff and lick and their farewells were complete. 

What struck me about this short and simple exchange was that it could have happened anywhere. This scene, of friends greeting each other on a street, is very common in any country and any language. Dogs checking out other dogs is a very normal thing to do. And babies in strollers, babies laughing and babies being adored….that is the way life should be. 

The realization for me is that because I am a new to this country, my circle of friends is small. That is a big adjustment for someone who used to see people I knew practically everywhere I went. So the chance of me running into someone I know, in the Netherlands, is very slim. But someday I will be one of those women, who greets a friend out of the blue. It will take time and a much better understanding of the Dutch language.

But this is what I know for sure: making new friends in a new land, does not mean that I have forgotten my friends across the ocean. That would be just impossible. It is one of the hardest aspects of moving to another country, to leave your friends and family. I am grateful for the Internet and email, as it is the best way to communicate with friends all over the world.  

Before I left America, someone told me it is not the amount of goodbyes that you have to say, it is about the hellos you will now be saying to all your new friends. I just want it all. I want the new friends, without losing the old. I don’t think I am asking too much. And as I have learned, anything is possible. 

 Recommended reading:  Fiction Class by Susan Breen

 Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

My most excellent year by Steve Kluger

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Comments

  • Aledys Ver  On May 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Lovely! And as you say, you can only win in your present situation: keep the old ones and hear from them as often as ever (though probably not seeing in person) and making new friends. You don’t need to be fluent in Dutch for that, though it will help to open up your “target” 😀
    The friends I made during my first year here in the NL are the friends that I still see and get together. I have also met a couple of good friends through blogging, believe it or not…

  • Loree Griffin Burns  On May 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    You are so missed, dear Jane.

    xoxo
    Loree

  • Judy Savage  On May 8, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Jane and I were just talking to each other at church today and saying how much we miss you and that we hope to visit you one day…….. So glad you are doing the blog – sounds like a new dance step – “doing the blog”.

    Happy Mother’s Day to both you and Natas!

    Judy

  • Holly Anne  On May 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I’m sure as soon as you find others with interests in books etc. You’ll be so busy. There must be a group who enjoys the one cup of coffee and cookie and book chats. Bet there are others who have trouble with the language too. Kudos for you taking on a new languag and new country. More power to you, Jane.

    Thanks for the e-mail. Wish I could see the tulips. Any pictures?? They must be so beautiful.

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