Let me tell you a story about my long lost friend Ineke.
Ineke was an exchange student from The Netherlands at my high school. We became fast friends the year of her time here — my sophomore year/her senior year. I remember it was heart wrenching at age 16 to say good-bye to a best friend, with not so much as e-mail or Facebook to stay in touch. (Cue the “Somewhere Out There” music.)
We wrote occasionally and managed to stay in touch through my first few years of college. At that time, my parents lived in Germany and over my Christmas holiday, I was lucky enough to visit Ineke and meet her family in her hometown, located province of Friesland. The following summer, I took the train from Frankfurt to The Hague, where she was living and working. We stayed in her flat and she took me on a whirlwind tour of her beautiful city.
While she was at work, I took a train into Amsterdam. While most 20 year-olds were probably visiting Amsterdam for an entirely different reason that summer, I was excited to get to visit the Anne Frank House, and find a little stationery shop I had read about.
I do recall having lunch by myself at a cafe overlooking the canals of Amsterdam. I ordered a glass of white wine, (scandalous as I wasn’t yet 21!) and felt that somehow I had discovered adulthood.
That was the extent of my wild times in Amsterdam. A historical museum, boutique shopping and a glass of wine.
I admired Ineke who had her own flat and a job in such a cosmopolitan city, where she rode bicycles everywhere and did her own grocery shopping. She was my first friend to have such an independent life.
I will never forget that time. Or my friend.
But somehow, we lost touch. Losing touch with a friend is a funny thing. You never quite remember how you lost contact with someone, but one day, you find yourself thinking about your old friend and want to connect with her, but you have absolutely no idea where to begin.
And in a world of Facebook, e-mail and Google searches, it seems like it should be so easy to find someone from your past, but it’s not always so.
Yesterday, I randomly decided to see if I could find Ineke on Facebook. It’s not the first time I’d looked for her. But I thought maybe she could have joined since my last search. I typed in her first and last name and didn’t find anyone. Then I started searching in Netherland networks for Ineke’s (no last name.)
I found a girl who resembled Ineke, but she had sunglasses on in her photo. She also had a different last name, so I wasn’t sure if possibly my Ineke had gotten married. I sent the following message:
I’m looking for an Ineke friend of mine who was an exchange student from The Netherlands in Kansas one year. You very much resemble her, but it’s hard to tell b/c of the glasses. Your last name isn’t the same, but maybe married? If it is you, then my search has come to an end.
If not, so sorry to bother you! And you are probably wondering why someone would ever go to Kansas for an exchange program. 🙂
This morning, I opened my e-mail address for this blog and I saw an e-mail with the subject line: “A friend from far far away.” I opened it up and it was Ineke. But not the Ineke from Facebook. My Ineke, who had found me by doing a Google search and stumbling into this blog.
Her e-mail had nothing to do with my weird note to an unassuming Ineke in Holland. We were simplylooking for each other at the exact. same. time.
(And I’m not that hard to find.)
I had goosebumps.
It was like the Universe was whispering to us to find one another.
Somehow today, my world just seems a little more complete knowing that I have reconnected with Ineke — the right Ineke– again after all these years.