To my friends.

As I sit here in the comfort of my parents’ American home, underneath layers of the collected blankets whose warmth have maintained a consistent comfort in my leisure activities, I think of you. I look at the quilt that my closest sisters had made for me, tracing the fabrics that they chose to represent themselves with my eyes. The truth of the love with which this gift was created never escapes me, just as the cards and post its and pictures remind me of a faithfulness and a loyalty that have woven a safety net in my hardest moments.

It’s not without a struggle that I leave you and your daily activities, the fabric of your lives that I delight in. I have considered many times my desire to go, a desire that dangerously collides and fights with my innate need for roots. In those moments I am carefully weighing the cost and benefit of forging a path of international characteristics in my twenties. The costs, which keep me up with tears in my eyes before leaving for a trip, are the phone conversations, lunch dates, trips, parties, and celebrations with all of you that I forfeit.

I constantly search for a way to make you relevant in my moments while abroad, considering what items I may pack that are filled with reminders of our friendships, whose textures, fabrics, and weight will fill my days with a reminder of your consistency.

Perhaps it’s not a big deal to you that I leave, but the sadness and denial in some eyes speaks to a love that I have nurtured for years with many of you. I have said many times that I am a determined friend. Those of you with whom I vowed to keep in touch mean as much to me as any family member, and I call, write, and bug you for your time.  You have been the pieces of my quilt. You’ve been the fire under my torch, you’ve been my frustrations, and you’ve been my annoyances. You’ve been my encouragers and my comforters. You’ve been my cheerleaders, my sympathizers, my sounding board, and my truth. For years, you’ve been the family that I could count on for consistency of spirit, of laughter, and of joy. My friends, I gratefully acknowledge, were not chosen by me, but for me, in a cosmic design that joined me with characters I would never had sought out. But YOU have been my inspiration, my laughter, and my joy.

My innermost insecurities weasel their way out of me during times of departure, like earthworms who find themselves exposed on the sidewalk after a summer thunderstorm. I want to beg each one of you to tape a picture of me in your journal, in your car, by your bedside. I want to beg you not to forget, to patch me onto your soul and to be there when I return. These are journeys, which will make me a fuller, and a more developed human being, and I will love you each step of the way. Your influence is precisely that which calls me to leave these shores, and your comfort is precisely what brings me back.