I’ve been finding myself a little more emotional than usual lately. I’m overtired from working long hours, and many things (maybe too many) about my life are feeling rocky, unsure. But part of the emotionality is stemming from something very simple – we’re 13 days out from the day my friend Jakob gets married. And though I’m overjoyed for him to have found the woman of his dreams, to have everything that he’s hoped for come to fruition, there are some complex emotions tied up in the thought of missing the wedding of this man who essentially became my brother and my other half on the Camino.
It’s difficult to adequately put into words what it feels to form a bond with someone that you barely know, under circumstances you can barely understand. When those circumstances happened on the other side of the world, and sometimes seem like a dream, that also takes its weird toll on your sanity. But when all of the parts of the experience combine to create something that shakes your life to its core, that too can leave some scars. The bottom line is that I found love on the other side of the world, with a few souls that were met quite by random. People that I know will be in my life from this day forward. People who, in no time at all, came to mean the world to me. And my heart hurts to know I can’t be there for the wedding of someone I barely know, but know I’d jump in front of a bus for. It’s a strange time to be me (but then, when is it not)?
What’s really weird is going back through the photos from the Camino, trying to piece together just when it was that Jakob and I became friends. And there, in the photos, I see that it was the 2nd day of walking together. In memory, I thought that maybe it was a week of getting to know each other. In the real world, a week would be crazy fast. I don’t make friends easily. It takes me months to trust someone enough to be friends, never mind comrades.* But time is different when you’re walking to Santiago de Compostela, and there, in a photograph of a perfect sandwich, lies a memory of one silly conversation about Band of Brothers, and one foolhardy agreement to keep on walking that afternoon across the longest stretch of the Meseta. By the end, we were bonded in a way in which only the road is capable.
Maybe it’s only in my head, or my heart. And there are a hundred other small memories of our walk, and of when our fellowship was rounded out by our third brother, David. But there was a deep magic in our shared footsteps, a closeness that Jakob would probably attribute to St. James, and David to something rational, like exhaustion and hormonal fluctuations. I think I’ll just stick with love.
So to both of my brothers from another mother, if you’re reading this, I love you (even when you wake me up eating Oreos in the middle of the night, or let a cow attack me, or laugh at me for getting the hottest Pimento de Padrón and feeling like my face is going to melt off at the dinner table). I might not be much of a world traveler at the moment, but whenever you need me, whatever I can do, you have the promise of my sword. And to Jakob, who is about to undertake another wonderful journey with its own set of challenges, keep running up that hill. I’ll be shouting “Currahee!” for you on this side of the pond. ❤
*NB: According to Etymology.com, the term comrade dates back to the late 16th century, and is derived from the Middle French term camarade, relating to the Spanish term camarada. While comrade now means “a friend or trusted companion, esp. one with whom you have been involved in difficult or dangerous activities, or another soldier in a soldier’s group” (via the Cambridge Dictionary), I find it particularly telling that camarada meant just “chamber mate.” Given the close quarters shared by peregrinos at night, as well as the difficult activities undertaken together during the day, both old and new terms fit very well.