I always enjoy my time in Santa Barbara, but there are little things that have a way of making it even more special. Yesterday I had a lunch meeting that did exactly that. Let me tell you a story about how life, weddings and Papua New Guinea made this friendship happen.
It all began in a duplex on the hill near the translator lodges in Ukarumpa. 4 ladies lived happily together, one Australian and three Americans. One of those ladies decided that she would get married and in keeping with tradition, she left the apartment to live with her new husband. And then there were three.
I became the fourth and moved into the empty bedroom. It was a happy time in Ukarumpa and we all got along well. I had a language surveyor housemate and the other side of the duplex housed a linguist and a literacy worker. The other literacy person and I became co-workers and had a happy Onobasulu connection. My surveyor housemate and I ended up sharing an office. I actually kind of just took over a desk but it worked out quite nicely. This meant easy access to friends for icecream runs or go-to-the-store breaks during the work day. And then there was the other duplex buddy. A smart, quiet, thoughtful, Californian who I didn’t completely understand. All was well and good in Ukarumpa but then the inevitable happened and slowly my three other duplex-mates moved away. I didn’t know when I would see these ladies again.
And then the news came. The language surveyor was going to marry her language love, a tall dreadlock haired man from the Pacific Nothwest. Since I was already in the US, the flight from California to Texas seemed easy enough. I would celebrate with them but I needed a ride from Dallas out to Longview. And it was the linguist to the rescue. She picked me up from the airport, we got caught in traffic, stopped for much needed sustenance at Sonic and made it in time to see the vows. The reception was lovely but driving back to Dallas proved challenging when we sustained tire damage due to stray ‘drift wood’ on the road. Only a Californian could find driftwood in east Texas. Long story short we spent the night in Longview with other PNG friends and made it back to Dallas in time for my flight the next day. Needless to say this mix of an adventure helped the acquaintanceship move into the lovely realm of friendship.
But as with a lot of my friendships, I have to accept the fact that I might not see that person for months or even years at a time. Lucky for us we have facebook, cell phones, email and all sorts of other wonderful ways to communicate from afar but it’s not the same as sitting down with someone face to face. So you can imagine my excitement when my friend happened to be in California and driving through Santa Barbara. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and catch up time. It was of course too short but that’s the way it is with friends.