This almost called for the quintessential Creed reference.

It dawned on me this morning one of the big differences between life in Toronto and life back in Auckland. I hug people a lot more often here. I always grew up with a lot of close friends. I was carried through life from kindergarten through university amassing friend groups and fostering friendships. My core group numbered around 15-20 people and it was tight knit. With the bulk of my close friendships spanning 10-20 years, there were years worth of shared history we could call on, innumerable in-jokes and a general acceptance and understanding of individual weirdness. It was amazing and created the kind of bonds that won’t erode with time. The sort of friendships where, regardless of distance and disparate communication, everything clicks back into place as soon as you’re face to face. We didn’t hug though.

The friendships I have here in Toronto feel intimate in a whole different way. They’re amassed of fellow rogues, people from all different walks of life. There’s much more of a community feel, brought together over shared interests and desires rather than circumstantial history. We met through diverse means and express our friendships in wholly different ways. This weekend my girlfriend and I cuddled up on the couch with our couple friends, stripped down to our underwear and played Pandemic. I met up with a fellow New Zealand mate and her partner for brunch. I met her at a sex/sexuality conference. This afternoon I’m going out to hang with my favourite ex-girlfriend, one of my enduring and very special friends here in Toronto. Naturally, they’re all the types of friends whose departure necessitates a hug. It just feels right, necessary almost.

It sounds like I’m drawing a strict line in the sand here and throwing out comparisons. As if I’m saying my life and friendships in Toronto eclipse those I built up back home. It sucks that it sounds that way, because that’d be a gross disservice to all those people I grew up with who are such an important part of who I am. One thing I don’t think I acknowledge enough is how much I really miss all my best friends. They were with me for most of the best times of my life and I’d love to take months out of my life purely for the purpose of catch ups. I think back to the weekend vacation we had a fortnight before I left the country. Hours on end with my favourite people in the world. I don’t think I could pinpoint a moment in my life I’ve been happier, riding high on the fumes of shared joy.

This in turn sounds like I’m dumping on my Toronto friends for our lack of shared history. This too is not the case. The life I lead here is filled with so much love and unlike the obvious unspoken love my friends and I shared back home, it’s expressed verbally, physically and often. It’s abundant and visible and it’s amazing to be a part of. The more time I spend here, the more that shared history grows and the closer these connections become. It’s become a cornerstone of my life and I’m just realising how important that is to me.

I’ve thought about it, why these friendships differ so much. It dawns on me that the change isn’t in the types of relationships, but a fundamental internal shift. It’s become apparent that this change is indicative of something I desired and I’ve found a like-minded community to engage with. Part of me wishes I’d hugged more frequently when I had the chance, to have been open and transparent about my affection for the most crucial people in my life. The other, more rational part of my brain knows that this was always understood in a non-verbal capacity. That window hasn’t closed and it’s something to look forward to in our future dalliances rather than regretting its absence in the past.

Or else we’ll just gently rib each other about our deep-seated insecurities, which is like a hug for the soul.

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