** Pardon my potentially mispelled/incorrect German. I don't speak it, so I did my best. Freundin apparently means girlfriend, but I can't figure out how to just say friend in female form (the German word for amiga, haha). It's the thought that counts? **
I've known since the day I met Julia that she was going home on December 17th, but now that she's actually gone it seems to have taken me completely by surprise.
Where did the time go??
Having my older brother Andy here with me has definitely distracted me,
but when I think about what happens after he goes home and life returns to normal...
Well, I can't imagine Ghana without Julia.
She wasn't my best friend or my mentor or my roommate or my coworker...she was more like some wonderful combination of all of them...
Andy made a comment to me after meeting both Julia and Karina, saying he was happy to see that I hadn't just found people who I could have fun hanging out with while I was in Ghana; I'd found people who I was genuinely friends with.
'Cause I mean, let's be honest - even if Julia had been annoying or something, I still would've hung out with her all the time because I didn't really have a choice. My pool of potential friends in Aflao was Julia and... Julia.
But even if I'd had other choices, I still would've chosen her. She was probably the perfect friend to have in a situation like this. She's incredibly kind, and has a very similar sense of humor to me. She's friendly and adventurous and laidback, nice almost to a fault (I was definitely the designated jerk of the two of us) and very smart. In other words, she's one of the few people I could happily hang out with every day and one of the fewer people who could happily hang out with me every day.
Julia taught me how to put roots down in Ghana.
Not just how to hail a cab or how much to pay for a coconut, etc - although stuff like that is extremely useful information.
But more importantly she showed me that it was possible to feel at home here.
She taught me to be patient with the men who harrass us on the street and to tell persisent vendors "Next time, next time" to make them go away. She got me to travel on the weekends, something it actually wouldn't have occurred to me to do, at least as often as we did it.
She approached Ghana with a kind of open-minded gratitude that I have been constantly trying to imitate.
I won't get another friend like her while I'm in Ghana.
Other volunteers will come and go, and some of them will be people I'll really connect with and enjoy being around.
But you only get one Julia.
And somehow...I'm ok with that. I only need one Julia.
I'm established here now, and if I end up somewhat on my own between February and May, that thought no longer terrifies me the way it once did.
And if I get the chance, I'll try to be someone else's Julia.
Summer 2012, Julia! It's gonna be SIGNIFICANT!