It was early spring of 2011 when my boyfriend of two years and I split up. I was devastated because I felt like my dreams of having a future with this man were shattered. I was in a pretty low place in my life and noticed that many of my friends were in relationships at the time and weren’t able to hang out and distract me from my sadness. I felt so pathetic and lonely that I decided to make new friends and meet new people through meet up groups. I figured I would focus on improving my foreign language skills and came across a really great language exchange meet up group online and decided to join right away.
My first night at the meet up, I was greeted by the organizer who asked what languages I spoke and wanted to practice. I immediately said Spanish and she directed me to a small group of people sitting at a table in this surprisingly spacious bar. Despite being of Latin American origin, I have difficulty thinking and speaking in Spanish though I’m really good at understanding what is being said.
The first person I met that night was this really calm, laid back guy named Beto. He was really easy to talk to and I liked the fact that he wasn’t trying to hit on me. Through conversation, I discovered he was from Mexico and on contract doing some graphic design work in the city. I felt really comfortable around him and immediately felt we bonded because our personalities and our way of looking at the world were so similar.
Later that night, Beto introduced me to his friend Lavinia who I found so intriguing. It amazed me that a woman from Romania could speak Spanish so fluently – probably even better than me! She was so talkative, loud and full of energy. Something about her presence drew me in and we started talking. I was mesmerized by the story of how she came to Canada. Her strength to leave a stable job back in Romania and take a risk on living in a new, foreign land was truly inspiring. Her enthusiasm for Toronto and the people she met here made me believe that I too, could fall in love with the city and be happy again.
It was strange how Beto, being so similar to me, mentioned that Lavinia had this tendency to drain him of his energy when I felt the complete opposite – she energized and motivated me! Through Beto and Lavinia, I met some other really great Spanish speakers and we got along so well that we would consistently attended the meet up group just to see each other and make plans for the weekend.
That summer was really memorable for me. I had so much fun partying it up and learned so much about everyone’s country and culture. The friendship I formed with Lavinia was definitely one that helped me heal from my break-up. She’s so different from me in many ways and it’s those qualities about her that I admire greatly. She’s a strong, independent, funny, social, brutally honest woman with a zest for life. To some degree I feel like her personality has rubbed off on me and I’ve become a stronger, “take no bullshit” kind of woman.
Despite only knowing her for several months, I felt a really strong bond with her and was sad when I found out that she was unable to get her visa extended and had to return to Romania. Regardless of the distance, we stayed in touch and she still has a way of inspiring me with her writing from miles away.
It was through Lavinia, that I decided to start sharing some of my own personal pieces through a public blog. She continues to inspire me with the pieces she writes and I just wanted to thank her for being such an important part of my life. I will always remember you Lavinia! Despite the distance, you are always in my heart! Thank you for being an incredible friend!