I'm teaching another travel writing class for Catapult, starting Feb 29

Musing on friendship

A wave of coincidences swept over me today. What started it all was an email exchange with fellow blogger Heather in Bristol and a beautiful poem she posted on Heather on her Travels. The poem got me thinking about the relationship we have to people and places around the world, how the www estranges and connects us all at the same time. Then this afternoon I took a little trip around the blogosphere, stopping at my usual places en route. Several articles and photos caught my eye but what really inspired an intensely emotional response was a picture of Santorini. I couldn’t tell why the whitewashed houses and the blue seas of the Greek island that I have never been to shook me out of the here & now but there was something about it I couldn’t quite leave behind. A sentiment that lingered… My thoughts then wandered off to the magical light of Lisbon (the sunset outside my window was spectacular this evening!), the starry skies of the Altiplano in Bolivia and the shiny night sands of Uruguay’s Cabo Polonio… It’s been a day of strong emotional responses, one of those when every memory and reaction is heightened and made more intense by small detail, otherwise unnoticeable.

As I sat down to write today’s post, an email appeared in my inbox from someone I thought I had lost – my friend Louie from the Greek island of Kos. One of my oldest, quirkiest and dearest friends, Louie stopped responding to my emails more than a year ago. I tried his hotmail account – no reply; emails to his EMI Records’ work address kept bouncing; his blog sat there without any updates… I really missed Louie so I played Sherlock. First, I went to the EMI website to dig out their Athens email address but alas it was all in Greek alphabet which I couldn’t even come close to deciphering with my vague knowledge of Serbian cyrillic. I then enlisted our mutual half-Greek half-Austrian friend Anna on my visit to Vienna last summer to call the EMI Records and find out what happened to Louie. But in the meantime, Anna got pregnant and for obvious reasons distracted from playing her detective’s assistant role. Next, I went through every link google spat out that could in any way be related to Louie but all the entries were a few years old or otherwise entirely tenuous. I did find a real estate company with Louie’s last name on his home island and emailed them, in desperation, trying to explain I’m looking for someone who may or may not be a relative of theirs. No response. So Louie was still gone… and I was still missing him. I kept on meaning to go through my old letters (yes, we’ve known each other that long, from a time letters were actually a common form of communication) and dig out his mother’s mailing address on Kos. But I seemed to have been kept away from my old letters back in Brooklyn and I never did send that letter to Kos.

Louie finally wrote tonight, after checking his old email for the first time in eons and finding a whole slew of my worried messages. He mused about the past, updated me on his life of the past year or so… I realized then why the intense emotional reaction I had to the photo of Santorini. Or it may have nothing to do with it at all but somehow tonight I feel connected to a thread that’s beyond my little life. I feel that the flutter of the butterfly’s wings was Louie thinking of me, here in Lisbon, from the island of Kos, via England (where we met and became friends) and New York (where he lived for a few months during my first year there) and the farm in the woods of Oregon where he worked and I visited him back in 1998. So I dedicate this post to Louie and friendships that survive years and continents.

Blog Comments

What a lovely post – I’m so glad you found your friend and hope you’ll be able to see him in Greece – my sister lives on the Greek island of Zakynthos, so I also long for that intense blue sea and sky.

Anja, here a tip!
“Greek alphabet which I couldn’t even come close to deciphering with my vague knowledge of Serbian Cyrillic”

Translation to Greek by MS word processor. Highlight the text for which you want to translate fonts to Greek, then click font type, choose Symbol and there you go!

… and of course other way around works as well… latin to greek !


The world is so small, isn’t it? I enjoyed reading your post about finding your friend. This theme resonated with me today as I am working on a post about making connections with people while travelling. I am fascinated how a person you barely know can make such a big impact on you.
Thanks for your lovely posting.

Thanks for inspiring this post, Heather!

Mirela, cool – what a great tip! Never knew you could do that.

Teacher girl – so glad to hear you liked the post. Yes, a brief encounter on the road can make a real impact on your life.

What a beautiful post. True friendship is being able to pick up where you left off no matter how long it’s been and feel like you are home.

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related posts

Happy 2014