A FRIENDSHIP FOR A LIFETIME
Recently, I have talked about a friendship that unfortunately didn’t survive the long distance between Germany and the US. Luckily though, I was able to maintain the majority of my relationships, even though it is sometimes really hard to stay in touch. One friendship I have been very blessed with is the one with my best friend.
Let me tell you, my best friend and I had quite a few bumps on the road that we had to overcome, but nothing was able to destroy our bond (even if it might have seemed that way in those particular moments). We have been through many, many ups and downs together, including losses of family members, severe illnesses, broken relationships, and pregnancies. But let’s circle back to where it all began.
We were four years old when we met in a German kindergarten in the town we both grew up. We also were in the same class during elementary school. Throughout these two stages of our life, we were friends, but not BFFs. We had occasional play dates, but especially during the later stages of elementary school, we had one particular “friend” interfering with us.
What basically happened was that this one girl was pretty jealous whenever my best friend and I were hanging out. Eileen (name changed due to privacy) could not stand it if she wasn’t involved, and she became mad and mean.
I remember one specific time, when I was about to have a sleepover at my best friend’s house, and Eileen called and told me that if I would go over there, she would stop being friends with me. Gosh, we were seven, eight years old at that time, but she acted like a jealous boyfriend. With her behavior, she drove a wedge between my best friend and me.
When we graduated elementary school, my best friend and I went on to different schools, while Eileen and I continued our path together. But her behavior didn’t change. I remember one time when we were changing after P.E. class, and she asked me who my parents had voted for in the recent election. I told her that that information was discrete and I wasn’t going to disclose it.
Instead of accepting my response, she threatened me that she would not give me back my stuffed animal horse I had borrowed her. When I think about this now I start laughing, but back in the days, I didn’t think it was funny at all. It is probably not a big surprise when I tell you that we are not friends anymore.
So, to make a long story short, throughout High School, my best friend and I kept in touch but we weren’t that close at the time. Some friendships will take their time to grow into a strong relationship, which is how it was with us.
After finishing High School, we continued on to different schools to finish our education. Luckily, I lost touch with Eileen and didn’t have to deal with her mean ways anymore. During that time, my best friend had her first boyfriend. I was there for her when the two of them broke up, one of the major milestones our friendship has been through.
Unfortunately though, shortly afterward, I messed up with my best friend’s trust big time. No, I didn’t get involved with her ex, but I disclosed a piece of information to him that was very private and brought her into trouble.
I wasn’t sure if our then-damaged friendship would survive this. She was very mad at me, and she had every right to be. I don’t remember exactly how we overcame this, but we did. It took a while for her to forgive me and to rebuild trust, but we were able to move on.
A couple of years later, we were faced with the next challenge. She landed a job in eastern Leipzig, while I was living with my sister in Olsberg, a small town in the Sauerland region, about two hours away from Dusseldorf, where we grew up. Again, we stayed in touch but didn’t see each other often.
At the age of 25, I made the move to the United States as an au pair. When I was living in Brooklyn close to the end of my cultural exchange, my best friend had a business trip to New York. We were so excited to be reunited at the other side of the pond, especially me since I was going through a really tough time. We had a blast together in Manhattan and spent some great quality time. Our friendship was still going strong even though we hadn’t seen each other in so long.
A month after our reunion in New York I moved back to Germany. The following year, both my best friend and I met our “American men” in the same month. She met hers at a work event in Leipzig, while I met mine at an Irish pub in Dusseldorf. She got engaged and moved to Charlotte, North Caroline the following April while I moved to Huntington Beach to start college the following July.
I swear to God, we didn’t plan any of this together and had no clue that we would both saying goodbye to live in Germany at almost the same time. I do believe though that everything in life happens for a reason, and that this coincidence was fate. While my best friend started out in Charlotte and then moved to Dallas for a couple years, I was always rooted on the west coast.
We kept visiting each other, and it was so amazing to have someone you have known forever be “close by” in a different country. We could relate to the cultural differences and how hard some adjustments to the U.S. were (and still are). Then, in October of 2015, my best friend moved to Redondo Beach because she got a job in LA. I was over the moon to have her so close to me.
Having to go through all these stages of our life, our friendship has never been closer. At his point, we consider each other family. And I strongly believe that nothing will be able to destroy the bond we have. We will be those grannies you see in videos and memes that are rocking the dance floor with huge Sombreros on their heads and wine glasses in hand.
Anne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.