Wednesday, October 17, 2012

friends that stick

The other night, at a new friend's birthday party, another guest and I were discussing how hard it is to make friends in Paris. I attributed it to my finding that many twenty-somethings have friend circles they've maintained for 10+ years as going away to college is hardly as much of a "thing" here as it is in the United States. Maybe it's not lack of warmth but depth that makes new friendships tough.
In my Global Communications class a few days later, my professor identified how amazing it can be for a French person in the United States to receive an invitation to dine at an acquaintance's house. Sharing a meal is traditionally a very intimate pastime between close friends and family in France. As such, following the event (which may be as simple as a barbecue or pizza party), this same French person may be disillusioned to discover their acquaintance is still just an acquaintance. Thus leading to the conclusion that the American is superficial, flakey, or both.
With these cultural thoughts in mind, I reflected on the friendships in my own life. A friend can be a meaningless label just as it can be an important one, and either way, it has different meanings to each person, regardless of culture. I remember a time when identifying "a best friend" was key, most notably between the ages of 5 and 10. It was during this same time that I also recall [be]friending someone without any association to clicking on an "accept" button. How times have changed, huh?
First there are the friends I grew up with, those who know my family well and truly understand where I came from. I feel lucky to still be in touch with a few of them. Then are the friends I have had shared experiences with--freshman year of college, summer internships, sorority life, study abroad. And most recently, they are the friends I've met through networking whether it be social media or freelance work.
It was my friend Elizabeth, for instance, who inspired last night's meal which I shared with a friend I'm just getting to know here in Paris, Edna. Liz had traveled to Laos just weeks before I met her in France, and being that she's now in Africa in the Peace Corps, I wanted to pay homage to her experience at Rouammit & Huong Lan. So, I'm sentimental (amplified by coming home from that meal to an email from one of my oldest friends) but I can't help but believe that quotes like this one didn't just have romantic relationships in mind. By the way, if you take apart the word copain, it actually means one with whom you share bread with. Or sticky rice.


  1. Great post Danielle and I totally agree with you! BTW love the quote in the end :)

  2. I never thought to dissect 'copain' before -- love the literal translation. It was lovely to meet up for dinner (and such a delicious one at that)! What's next, Cambodian? :)


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