Do you ever meet someone and just feel an instant connection with her? Where even though you’ve only known her a month or a day or an hour you already know you can just talk to her about anything?
I recently met such a person.
She randomly appeared in my life. And right away, I was drawn to her.
She is laid back and funny and nonjudgmental, but also ballsy and smart and a straight shooter.
We aren’t BFFs. We haven’t ever really hung out together. I’ve only known her for a couple months.
She actually swims on the masters swim team I coach. And I’ve only ever seen her at practice. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 1:00.
She wasn’t a competitive swimmer. She’s not competitive in general, really.
She’s a newly retired teacher who is about twelve years older than me.
She swims because she likes the exercise. And I think she likes the group.
It’s a great group of people I coach every Tuesday and Thursday. I love them all, really.
But most of them are a little bit more competitive and intense than my new friend.
So I’ll give everyone a set to swim, and my new friend will swim at her own pace. And when she needs a break, she’ll hang out at the wall for a little bit while everyone continues to swim.
And that’s when we have our conversations.
Sometimes we talk for a minute.
Sometimes we’ll talk for five. It’s never a super long conversation.
But every week I learn a little bit more about her or discover another thing I really like.
My new friend went on a trip to India and Thailand in January, and she was gone for about three weeks.
I missed seeing her at practice.
I didn’t particularly think that she missed me. I didn’t know if she enjoyed our impromptu conversations at the end of the lane every Tuesday and Thursday. But something was missing for me when she wasn’t there.
I didn’t realize it until she came back today.
I was so happy to see her! Everything was just a little bit brighter.
She walked over to me and handed me an envelope and a little cloth bag.
“I brought this back for you from Thailand,” she said to me.
I immediately started crying. I was blown away.
I haven’t received a “just because” gift from someone in a very long time. Longer than I can remember, actually.
In one of those do-I-open-it-now-or-wait-until-later moments, I put it on the table.
“Open it!” she said to me.
I opened it.
“It’s an ankle bracelet,” she said.
I haven’t worn an ankle bracelet in years. I used to LOVE anklets back in the day.
“You’ve got tats,” she said. “You seem like the ankle bracelet type.”
When my new friend was in Thailand — or India — (I can’t remember exactly where she was) she posted a video where she was petting a baby elephant. Not like in a zoo, but in an elephant sanctuary or something.
I couldn’t accurately describe the amount of joy she got from just loving on this baby elephant.
But I was jealous.
(And I immediately added pet a baby elephant in India (or Thailand) to my bucket list.)
My new anklet was a circle of elephants.
I cried some more.
“Open the card,” she said. “Might as well get all the crying out in one shot.”
I opened the card.
Elephants are good, strong, gentle beings — much like you. Also, they are good luck. Will bring you meal and treats after your surgery.
Love you — (New Friend)
I gave her another hug and regained my composure.
And then my new friend hopped in the pool and started swimming.
And I put on my new ankle bracelet.
What a gift this person is.
And even though we only talk a few minutes a week, I’m really really glad my new friend is back.