I looked down at the name tag of the person sitting next to me. It said, “Joshua”. It was our second week of DTS in Salem, Oregon. The staff wanted our class to get to know each other, so every week they rearranged our seating assignments. During the second week, we found ourselves next to one another. Up until that point, we’d spoken about two words to each other. I could tell Josh didn’t want to talk, which oddly enough, just made me want to talk to him even more. Every morning I’d sit down next to him and strike up a conversation. In response, he’d look at me and reply with one word.
It was an awkward week. But we eventually became friends through ping pong. Our group of four played ping pong in the common room of our dorm every night. It started out as a way for us to blow off steam after lecture. But over time, Josh and I discovered that we had a lot in common.
Our walls came down when we realized we were both 8’s on the Enneagram. Suddenly, we felt the freedom to challenge each other emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually—and of course, through ping pong. (Some games got very heated). Being friends with Josh was like looking into a mirror and knowing the other person starring back understood. We had so many, “wow, you too? I thought I was the only one,” moments. We just fell into each other, as if our souls were prewired to bend towards the other. It was the most seamless and natural friendship.
Even though we had a deep connection, we didn’t date. I didn’t want to date because I was planning to leave for Thailand after graduation, and he never approached the subject because he assumed I didn’t want to. We both had this unspoken understanding that we were just friends. By the time graduation hit, we hugged goodbye and said, “I love you”. He had become one of my best friends.
Fast forward four months. It was a cold, fall night in the Pacific Northwest. The kind of cold that amplified the smell of evergreen and the stillness of the forest that surrounded us. We both sat in the back seat of my friend’s car. Winding through the backroads of Salem, we belted out Chance the Rapper songs and reminisced about our time in DTS. My classmates and I had decided to reunite for a weekend in September at our old stomping ground. As we drove, Josh turned and gave me a long, odd look. I stopped singing and turned my head towards the window.
“He must hate my voice,” I thought.
The next morning I lugged my suitcase to the common room in Pioneer. My friend, Ethan, offered to drive me to the Portland airport at four in the morning. Suddenly, I looked up to see Josh standing at the doorway.
“Wait, why are you up this early?” I said.
“I just figured I’d come with you guys—I mean—we didn’t get to hang out very long this weekend. Even if it’s only an extra hour in the car, it’s still worth it to me,” he replied.
We pulled up to the airport one hour later. Josh put a note in my hand and gave me another long look that made me blush, and I didn’t know why. I read the note at my gate terminal. The last words in it said,
“I know you’re going to be in my life and we’ll see each other again soon.”
I had no idea how true those words would be.