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Letter 2: Sarah, The Girl Who Made Me Grow

December 9, 2010

“Some people are in your life for a day, some for life. But every person you meet has something to teach you. Try to learn from all of them.”

The professor who taught us this lesson during a management class could have had a better timing. I had just broken up with Sarah, my girlfriend of two years, and I honestly felt like the only lesson I had learned was that I should not spend so much time and effort for a relationship that’s making me lose both. Yes, I was a bit bitter.

However, from personal experience, I think the greatest changes in life often happen gradually, hence the difficulty of perceiving them without the benefit of hindsight. And that girl and I walked side by side for two years (actually, two and a half, counting the two attempts at getting-back-together-but-not-really-trying-to that we had). Now two years is really enough time to let someone’s influence show on you. It wasn’t always a good influence (ask my friends), but parts of it were better.

For instance, we travelled 14 countries together.  And she has a very unique way of talking to people, breaking the ice, even beyond language barriers, that made her awesome. She truly was interested in other people’s cultures and habits, with the least prejudice possible, and that in turn made her more interesting and she made nice connections with the people she met. I took that attitude with me when I travelled alone since then, and my trips and the encounters I have made have been totally different. I smile more, meet more people, and enjoy foreign countries even more than before (I have always enjoyed travelling, it’s just that I didn’t like to share the experiences with anyone, I wanted to discover places by myself. Now I discover the places AND the people in it.) So thanks Sarah.

Sarah also loved to cook and eat good food. In less than a year she had already made me try a dozen new things. Like wine. And weird food like oysters and snails. And it’s surprisingly good. Before that too, cooking was more of a task I had to do if I wanted to eat, and I had solutionned it with a diet based on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, frozen pizzas, and ramen noodles. Now cooking is something I enjoy, from buying unusual vegetables at the supermarket to experimenting with a new recipe, cooking allows you to be creative and eat better for little money. And once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty fast too. (Doesn’t mean that I don’t stop at McD’s once in a while).

Sarah liked looking good. And she liked her boyfriend to look smart too. So even though taking a whole saturday afternoon to roam a place full of people in order to try half a dozen shirts that are more expensive than my watch isn’t necessarily my favorite activity, I admit that it was becoming urgent for me to wear something else than the half-tattered T-shirts I had kept from high school (again, ask my friends). And I even felt better walking in a public space with girlfriend-approved clothes. So thank-you Sarah (even though I have kept my high-school T-shirts hidden in the closet and still wore them when you weren’t around).

I chose to send Sarah this postcard for several reasons. First, this relationship ended less than a year ago, it is still way too early to write a passionate thank-you letter telling her how great she’s been to me. My intentions could be misinterpreted, so a postcard makes sense as there’s much less room for interpretation. Second, I was working in Switzerland when I chose it, and it’s a country we visited together a couple of years ago, so that’s always a nice memory to be reminded of. And third, the illustration in the postcard is really what this relationship was. She was the extroverted, sociable girl who didn’t like to do the same thing twice; and I was the calm, stress-free boy who didn’t mind a little routine. And we both influenced each other, and I dare to hope that even though the relationship failed, there will be positive results for the both of us.

So Sarah, thank-you.

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