My Soul Friends

As I decorate my apartment, I’m searching through my pictures looking for those moments I shared with the four people that have been part of my journey.  The four friends whose paths have crossed mine and who even across the distance keep being a tremendous inspiration.

I met Viviana in my ESL class at Belmont High School.  We were standing in the cafeteria line when she talked to a guy I had a crush on.  I decided to talk to her.  In my own selfishness I thought she could be my pathway to him.  How silly it seems now but that lead us to three hour phone conversations and loud laughter that never stopped.  It has been 13 years and 9 months since!  I had seen Victor around school.  He always carried his huge Aztec Calendar everywhere!  In my own judgment I thought he was a little annoying.  We really didn’t talk to each other until we had a history class together.  We both knew Esteban, who had left California for a year.  They were best friends.  That is how our conversation began and from then on Victor and I found out that we had many stories in common.  Laughter created our friendship.  I met Esteban a few days after I had started school.  He was Ecuadorian just like me.  We didn’t hit it off at the beginning.  I thought he was conceited.  A year later when he returned to California we met once again through Victor and our friendship began.  Later he became a life mentor.  He was the Master and I was the Grasshopper.  I have graduated to a full blossomed Butterfly now.

By sharing the initial stories as to how I meet these four amazing people, I recognize now that I had put a small wall around me.  I had just arrived to the US and during my first semester it was hard to make friends.  This was the first time I had been in a school so big, completely enclosed with security guards and police officers and the first time I was in a coed school.  The first friend I made had to leave the country and apparently there was some drama surrounding her.  I never really knew her entire story and since she left so fast I wasn’t able to really get to know her.  Once the next semester began I ate alone a few times and was around several groups of people wanting to fit in, but none of them felt right.  Maybe that’s why when I meet these four important people in my life I had some judgments about them and I wasn’t extremely open, but open enough I’m glad to have given them a chance.  And them too of course!  We all gave each other the chance to find out who we were.  After the initial hurdle, it wasn’t that hard to let them in.  We had so much in common.  We got to the US around the same time; we shared similar stories and values. Viviana is from Peru.  Victor is from Mexico.  Esteban and I are from Ecuador.  And the most important thing, WE LOVE TO LAUGH!

I think how throughout these years I have been blessed to have Viviana, Victor and Esteban in my life.  I found and still find in them the kind of friendship that is nurturing, unconditional and extremely genuine.  I know I can come to them for empathy, but I can also come to them for a reality check!  I remember being very accepted by them.  It didn’t matter what I did, they were always besides me, physically and/or emotionally.  I know that I found in them role models I could look up to.  They inspired and continue to inspire me.

Now our lives have changed so much.  We have grown.  Some have moved.  Some are married.  Some are parents.  We have been through many ups and downs and are still wanting the best for our lives.  We have all worked really hard in our own ways.  There have been many hardships we shared together.  Esteban used to say that what tied us together was the fact that we were “self-made.”  We had created our own lives.  For individual reasons we learned to raise ourselves.

I remember when they left the US.  Victor decided to leave the country to Austria with his then girlfriend, now wife Andy.  They have a beautiful baby girl and are expecting again.  Viviana besides finding love with an exchange student from Germany decided to pursue a master’s degree in Germany so she left one month after Victor.  Viviana and her German, Lukas are now married and living back in Los Angeles.  Esteban fell in love with Andy’s sister and being the dreamer and romantic he is, he gambled everything and left to Austria a few weeks after Viviana left.  He is still living there.  Many changes have come to his life, but I know that ultimately he will always pursue what he loves.  Now me, after many years of being single and struggling to create a partnership I have found Greg.  The road has been bumpy sometimes, but what continues to drive me is the genuine love and care we feel for each other.  We are the parents in training of a beautiful cat.  Mackie is our baby cat and she is helping us in our struggle of becoming nonviolent parents.  We love her so much!

Back then, it was sad to see my friends go.  I know that I was so happy for them but somehow I felt I was being left behind.  I had just graduated from UCLA and had begun the usual identity crisis most recent graduates face.  What is next?  Them leaving wasn’t much of a reality until one time I experienced one of my usual Pamela adventures.  I was so excited!  I picked up the phone to call Victor.  The one I called first depended on the type of adventure I had had…. this brings a smile to my face… regardless of the order I always called all four of them.  I was driving when I picked up my phone to search for Victor’s number.  As soon as I saw his name it dawned on me.  The three of them were gone.  I felt extreme sadness!  I didn’t have them near me and accessible to me.  I had loved them and I had loved them deeply!  They had been part of my life, my growth, my journey to self-discovery.  It was hard to let them go.  Now I needed to fend for myself.  And I did!

Presently the four of us are committed to happiness, to the possibility of having it all, to the desire of breaking unhealthy cycles, to being the best we can be and most of all to healing for ourselves and for the families we want to create.  What a gift to have shared my life with them.  What a gift it will be to continue to witness our lives, sometimes from afar and sometimes from close.  I look forward to the day in which the four of us can be together in one room sharing but above all LAUGHING.


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