The last paragraph of an email from John in San Jose expressed gratitude for our friendship. It caught me pleasantly off-guard. The words came completely out of the blue. They weren’t in honor of a holiday or a birthday. They were simply spontaneous. I thanked John within a message that was a response to YouTube links we had sent each other.
Naturally, this surprise tribute triggered thoughts and memories of other friends who live far away from Norfolk, Nebraska. These are special people who either once lived here or I met when I lived elsewhere. This is an “elite” group of a few who have been in mutual contact for several years.
First on the list is Doug, who used to live and work here. We used to pal around back in the 1980s. We shared many interests. We bonded over our enjoyment of New Age and other mellow music. We also shared other interests, as well. Doug was just a cool guy to hang out with. In the mid-1980s, he decided to move to Arizona in order to live where he really wanted to be. One way or another, Doug and I have remained in touch. I still consider him to be a good friend. Doug often adds comments to this blog. Perhaps you’ve noticed them.
There is one other Doug in the distant friend category. The other Doug was a coworker and room mate when we worked at the radio station in Wayne, Nebraska in the late 1970s. We now, rarely interact, but we do exchange birthday cards and include short notes in each card. We have not seen each other since 1982. We still laugh about the time he tried to recruit me into the multi-level marketing culture of Amway that summer.
There is one other former room mate/coworker. Paul is the person I mentioned recently in the post about being geeks. We worked at the same radio station in Wayne and lived together in a basement apartment as a thrift measure because we were paid low salaries. During our off-times, we visited his mother in St. Paul, Minnesota and explored the Twin Cities area together. Paul moved to North Dakota and has been working at the same radio station since at least 1979. We’re basically “Christmas card friends”. There’s not much other interaction.
The long distance friend who goes back the furthest is Carlos. He was our family’s foreign exchange student in 1970. While he lived with us, we shared my bedroom and became de-facto brothers. At the end of the school term, Carlos returned to Mexico City to complete his studies. He now lives in Houston, Texas and owns a clinic where he is the head physician. Carlos likes to keep in touch via snail-mail.
Then there are Jorge and José, the couple who works for the same trucking company in Denver, Colorado. Before the pandemic, Jorge regularly stopped in Norfolk to visit. We enjoyed coffee breaks and philosophical discussions. Sometimes Jorge’s husband, José accompanied him. We keep in touch electronically these days. Hopefully, soon, we can continue our occasional in-person coffee breaks. I suppose you could categorize us as hybrid friends.
I also consider a precious few I met by way of pen pal clubs back in the day. Foremost is Tommy, who lives with his husband in Louisiana. Something just “clicked” and we have remained friends ever since. We exchange letter-length emails each weekend. Tommy is quite special.
Then there is Graham who lives with his wife Helen in London, UK. We met through an on line Buddhist discussion group many years ago. We have visited each others homes twice. We were traveling companions a few times, including a visit to India. Graham and Helen are some of my Facebook friends.
The long distance friend who lives the furthest away is Jigdal. He’s a former Tibetan monk who lives in southern India. He is now an activist for Tibetan autonomy. We correspond at least once each year via snail mail. We first met several years ago during my visit to India when Jigdal was still a monk. I was one of his benefactors until he left the monastery. Upon our parting, he gave me a ceremonial silk scarf. Jigdal tied it into a single knot with the instructions that I present it to him if we ever meet in person again. I hope to do that sooner rather than later.
I wrote this brief outline with a spirit of gratitude. It’s truly great to have friends who live far away. I certainly want to include the people who regularly read this blog. In case I have no future opportunity to do so, I want to express gratitude to my readers.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes guru and monk, Paramahansa Yogananda. “There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.”