“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

– Unknown

For me, the need for a connection to people has changed over the years and one that I see differently now that I no longer live in Arizona where my friends stretched back to my childhood years.  I have come to realize that building true friendships takes a skill set that can seem obsolete in a world dominated by social media, yet the reality is we all want a connection and need to feel a part of a community. It all starts with a simple connection that leads to a sense of acceptance and belonging. That “aha” moment of meeting someone and realizing they see things like you do or get your quirky sense of humor.

I am feeling the warm glow of this past weekend spent with one of my dearest friends and a former business partner from my Arizona days.  Since my move to Alaska five years ago we have had a standing dinner date. His annual fishing treks to Alaska every August guarantee that we will have at least one opportunity to see each other throughout the year. 

Our dinners usually take place on or near his birthday adding to the celebratory feeling of our annual get together.  We spend a leisurely dinner at Anchorage’s Marx Brothers Cafe sipping a lovely bottle of wine and dining on one of the chef’s recommendations.  Trying to catch up on a year’s worth of highs and lows in one weekend isn’t nearly enough time but our ability to reconnect immediately upon seeing each other reinforces the beauty of our 20+ year friendship.  

When I was traveling to London this summer, one of my goals was to experience London like a local even though I was only going to be there for a short three-week stay. The kids found a perfectly wonderful little Irish cafe called the J+A Cafe mere steps from the flat we rented. Most mornings when our schedules would allow we would meet for breakfast before heading off in separate directions; Lauren and Joe to rehearsals, Ryan to a photoshoot and me off to a museum or a ride in Kensington Gardens.  On the days when they had other plans, I made sure to start my morning at the J+A and before long I had connected with the eclectic staff and became a “regular.” They made recommendations on places I should see, off the beaten track places not suggested by run of the mill guide books. We bantered about American basketball and I learned a little about their backgrounds and was even able to share extra tickets to Lauren’s performance with one of the waitresses and her daughter who had never been to a ballet. When Rob arrived midway into my stay we headed there for a leisurely brunch so he could ease into vacation mode after spending a hellish day and half getting there from Alaska thanks to delayed flights.  I doubt they will ever know how much their friendly and genuine greetings meant or how starting out my day with friends made the trip even more special. In short they gave me a small sense of community through their simple acts of friendship.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart… I'll always be with you.”

– Winnie the Pooh

Camilla Strongin