Sunday, March 25, 2018

Unintended consequences

The phrase "unintended consequences" has the connotation of being a bad thing, but it doesn't have to be.

For 11 years I lived in the "international ghetto," that group of flats where many of the UN and NGO people from all over the world lived for whatever time they were assigned to Geneva.

I was not about to be isolated so, like my father used to do, whenever a new person moved in I would leave them flowers in front of the door and/or invite them for coffee.

The result has been many dear friendships that go beyond our time together on the 6th floor.

In more cases than not, communication continues even after almost two decades of separation. Easter messages from the Couple Czech are treasured, visits when possible to the Indian family happen and once there was even a meet-up in Edinburgh where the daughter is a student.

In one case my neighbor has become a family member of choice and her family an addition to mine and vice versa.

The first time I left flowers in front of her door, she was on mission (the international jargon for being on a business trip). The second time she took them in.

A Jack Russell that I was babysitting decided to check out her apartment when he saw her door open, resulting in a conversation.

One night, she needed help putting an Ikea table together. When done, we signed it. That table is now covered with embroidery thread in my daughter's Boston apartment.

Meals became shared, keys exchanged so we could leave food in the other person's refrigerator when they were coming back from a trip, TV shows watched, support given, adventures done. Her family's visit from Damascus and my daughter's visit from the U.S. deepened the bonds. My visits to Damascus and Syria makes the current situation extremely painful. Pain can be the price for loving.

She now lives in Paris with her new husband. I live in the South of France and Geneva with my new husband our brother-in-laws of choice as we call them. We don't have the same drop-in luxury as we did on the 6th floor, but the level of caring is there and when do we manage to be in the same place it is as if we had just had breakfast together that morning.

When I bought those two bouquets of flowers, I never thought the unintended consequence would be a deep, deep friendship and a sister-of-choice.

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