Imagine you’re seven years old in Venezuela and you make a friend. And forty-five years later, you’re meeting his 21 year old daughter for the first time in Sydney, Australia. Of all places. Sometimes this world astounds me with the way it weaves our lives.
Thursday afternoon, I took a rare lunch break from work to meet up with Pancholo, one of my dad’s oldest and closest friends who lives here in Sydney. And it was the coolest most surreal conversation. He and my dad met in primary school in a tiny little town in Puerto de la Cruz. After a few years, my dad moved away and they lost touch until they ran into each other again in college, at the Universidad de Simon Bolivar, where they studied together, worked on their engineering thesis together, and graduated together. Life-long friends.
It was an incredible experience to sit and talk with someone who’s known my dad for so long. It felt at times like he knew him better than I did or at least in a way I never could. My dad’s side of the family has always been such a mystery to me. It was fascinating to listen to him speak about my dad as a kid, his memories of the grandfather I never met (he died when my dad was my age), even remembering the street my mom’s house used to be on!
At one point, he mentioned how he hadn’t seen my mom since ’92 and I responded, “Oh that’s when I was born!” And he started laughing and goes, “That’s right, she was pregnant and wouldn’t let us smoke in the house! That was you!”
It was just such a lovely time. And such an incredibly nice gesture for him to reach out to me and make me feel welcome in this new city, so far from home. He invited me over to his house to meet the rest of the family sometime next weekend. And hopefully my dad will be able to squeeze in a visit on his next business trip to Taiwan in July and they’ll be able to reunite too.
I’ve been in one of those cynical moods lately in which the ugly underbelly of humanity seems more prominent with each night out so that Thursday afternoon was just what I needed to remind myself that life is about balance between extremes. As harsh as the bad gets, there’s nothing like the beauty.
At least that’s what I try to remind myself whenever my friends and I are being followed by a strange man late at night or an asshole at a club tells me I need to get laid or six cab drivers in a row refuse to drive three girls home at 1:30 in the morning.
But that’s a story for another day. A day when I want to sit down and question why we take this behavior as standard, normal, common… Disgusting, sure. Misogynistic, absolutely. But will it ever stop? Is that possible? The cynic in me says no way. But that doesn’t mean I won’t fight it with everything I have.
Because I know that there’s more to this world than that. There is more than the horror, more than the fear, more than the injustice. There has to be. And we all need those moments, like laughing at how Dad earned his Pacman nickname or heart-to-hearts with your best friend at 3am, to not just help us fight it but to help us live with it while we fight it.
With each wave of cynicism, I become more hardened. But at the same time, my smile gets wider and my laughter gets louder and I realize I’m becoming the very embodiment of those life extremities that caused it in the first place. Maybe that is life’s little trick.
Maybe we just need to learn to balance.