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An ode to my friends

May 3, 2019

This piece represents the opinion of the author .
Shona Ortiz

On the Friday of Ivies, amid the eclectic outfits and wild antics of Reed brunch, my senior friend placed her hands on my shoulder, looked me dead in the eye and said, “We’re going to stay in touch next year, okay?” Making her demand from under the brim of an oversized yellow bucket hat, it was hard to take her seriously. I couldn’t help but giggle a halfhearted reply, “Of course we will, Nell!” Sensing my insincerity, a friend grasped my shoulders, hugged me tighter and emphasized, “No, I’m serious!”

In the last three weeks of school before I head home for the summer, interactions like this force me to evaluate exactly what I will be leaving behind at Bowdoin. Things that I normally take for granted—late nights in Smith Union, three-hour Moulton dinners or Wednesday Harpoon meetings—all seem to matter more now that our days at Bowdoin are numbered. To be fair, some things are easier to let go of than others (Orient column deadlines), but one thing that remains impossible to accept is the inevitability of parting with friends.

When you first arrive at Bowdoin, the distance from home, no matter how small, creates a huge rupture in your life. In the epicenter of such a big change, friends quickly become your family. They offer you their last dose of Nyquil when you’re sick; they hear you sleep talking at 3 a.m.; they play endless rounds of Bananagrams with you; they are the first ones to cheer you on when you succeed and the first ones there for you when you fail. Since arriving here, my friends have quickly become the backbone of my Bowdoin experience.

But, like any good relationship, my friends and I have always balanced the precarious line between petty arguments (Coles Tower versus Pine Street Apartments, for example) and genuine acts of compassion towards one another (Sarisha—I still need my shirt back). At the end of the day, whether we are fighting or laughing, there lies an unbreakable amount of trust and dependence between us all. It is in this deep sense of comfort that I find myself in awe of my friends—the insanely goofy, amusing and brilliantly undefinable people that let me be a part of their lives. Even though I have only known them for a year and a half, I feel like I have known them my whole life.

My friends are my role models, my teachers, my live entertainment and my non-judgmental support system. Having to navigate the confusing and turbulent time that is our college years together makes these friendships so much stronger. As I sit here, writing this column, I can only dream that these friends of mine will be lifelong friends. But, as we must anticipate, fate will eventually drag us (kicking and screaming) to different corners of the world. Some of the friendships that we thought would last forever will be reduced to catching up at reunion weekend 30 years from now.

It may not always seem like it, but our friends are such crucial parts of our lives. So, before it is too late, appreciate your friends while they are still by your side. Let them know, with both words and actions, why you love them. And remember, it doesn’t take grand acts of generosity to tell your friend that you love them. Sometimes it’s little acts that give purpose to such meaningful relationships. Having just recently lost one of my best friends, I can’t stress enough how important these acts of gratitude are.

I get by with a little help from my friends, and there hasn’t been a time in my life when these words have rung any truer. So it is with my deepest love and admiration that I dedicate this column as an ode to my friends—I’ll see you at dinner later tonight.


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