Sunday, January 16, 2005

Part III: 2004 A year of Friendship: New friends

I started 2004 with a realization of just how close I'd become to my new friends when I said goodbye to Krysia, Jane, Sascha, Mike, Eric, and my other great Emory friends.

Fortunately, I was able to visit with them from time to time over the year - and hope to be able to in the future as well.

In Costa Rica, Becky and I stopped to help a couple who were having car trouble and wound up being treated to great conversation and an outstanding dinner by this interesting and adventurous duo from California.

I got into motorsports in 2004 when I decided to take my WRX to a track day at Road Atlanta. Little did I know that I'd make friends at that track event whom I'd be playing guitar and drinking Scotch with a year later.

In Washington, D.C., I met two of Gary's good friends, one whom I enjoyed laughing and drinking lunch-time margaritas with -- the other, whom introduced me to hookah bars with middle-eastern music and the best late-night espresso I've had.

In Thailand, I made several new friends while diving, including ex-pat British dive shop owners, dive instructors on mega-extended holidays, and a group of guys from the States who motivated me to dive the Galapagos Islands.

In a small village in the jungle near Burma, I drank rice moonshine with one of my best friends from the States and several new Thai friends, most of whom didn't speak English. That night we listened to an impromptu live concert of folk music and bonded with our new Thai friends through song, food, drink, and smiles. This may stand as my most salient "new friend" experience of the year. Incidentally, several nights later, after another evening of traditional drink and hours of laughing at jokes we had no hope of understanding, a park warden warned us not to venture away from our tents due to the risk of being attacked by a tiger.

In hindsight, I'm not so sure about how well jungle-brewed alcohol and camping in tiger country mix!

In the Galapagos Islands, I spent a week on a liveaboard dive boat, building new friendships with divers from California and the U.K. Experiencing such stunning marine life and amazing scenery in an exotic location with a certain element of risk pulls a group together quickly. I couldn't have asked for a better group to celebrate the Galapagos Islands with.

The sport of cycling led to a huge year of new friendships. Thanks to Becky's motivation to do group road rides and to make new friends in the process, I was introduced to a new and constantly growing group of wonderful people starting in the late spring.

From weekday group rides and cycling trips to the North Georgia mountains to a series of fall parties and off-season activities, I gradually met and bonded with what seemed like a dozen new people a week! As the days grew shorter and darkness fell by late afternoon, we transitioned from cycling to climbing, with various music, movie, and dinner events added along the way. This group of new friends has made a huge impact in my view of living in Atlanta, and I'm looking forward to continuing to spend time with them in many cycling and non-cycling activities over the next year.

Now, it took me just over 1,700 words to explain it, but now that I've completed my reflection on the year, I feel more strongly than ever about what a fantastic year of friendship 2004 was!

I thank my old friends and my new friends alike for playing a role in my life in 2004! I look forward to many more years with your friendship.



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