Once upon a time in a land called Houston, Texas, I had a friend named Sam. In a stroke of luck that I can only characterize as something like fate, I met him at one of those cheesy college orientations where everyone is obliged to introduce themselves to complete strangers and hope to make friends. I introduced Sam to Niki, another fellow college freshman who, at the time, was pursuing the same degree I was: Hotel & Restaurant Management.

              That semester, we all happened to have a horrible and boring math class together where we sat in the back of the large auditorium and counted how many students left during each class period. Sam remembers the record being around 100 once. Being the decent and caring human that he still is, my friend would wait with me when my then-boyfriend would pick me up from school. Unfortunately, Sam and Niki were helpless witnesses to the beginning of what would become the worst romantic relationship of my life: my first marriage. In fact, they came with me to the courthouse as the only witnesses to my first wedding. The only good things that came of that emotionally abusive marriage were my first son and, eventually, becoming a strong enough person to leave that horrible marriage. Probably the worst thing that came of that marriage was that my first husband obliged me to quit school and move far away from my parents and my dear friends who wished only happiness for me.

              Unbeknownst to me, Sam and Niki took my departure quite hard and for about 21 years, periodically wondered sadly what had become of me. In fact, they speculated that I might have died at the hands of my ex-husband. However, thanks to Sam’s top-notch research and data mining skills, he has found me again. Obviously, I am not dead (whew!) and have since had the usual ups and downs that one does in life. Sam and his lovely wife came over for dinner recently and met my current and wonderful husband and our mischievous toddler. We reminisced about the semester we shared and lamented that we had not stayed in touch. Happily, it seems that no time has gone by for the beauty of our friendship. Sam is still the same polite weirdo who would never make one feel inferior even if one is far from his high level of education. Likewise, I’d like to think I am just an older version of the optimistic dorky gal who will make friends of strangers anytime, anywhere.

              In Spanish the word for friendship is “amistad”. However, its meaning takes on a type of love and caring that is nearly unbreakable and untouchable by time. This type of relationship is as important in one’s life as familial relations. This bond can even sustain one during especially difficult times in life. I cannot adequately express how much I treasure the fact that I share “amistad” with Sam. I am deeply honored that he never gave up looking for me and I promise to never allow our friendship to fade ever again. I love you, my true friend.

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