Most of my best friends are third culture kids. Our homes are located countries apart and our every-day lives are drastically different. We see each other once a year at best, and we hug each other goodbye without any certainty of another connection. But despite these challenges, we consider each other best friends.
A few weeks ago, I was able to connect with a group of TCKs. Excitement buzzed throughout the group when our parents decided to visit a local restaurant together. Knowing we didn’t want to split up, we squished twenty people around a table designed for eight and scoured the restaurant for extra bowls or plates. Chatter filled the air as we talked about our past year. We laughed over hilarious cultural mistakes and recalled unforgettable memories from previous connections.
Soon, countless plates of delicious Thai food, which were placed in the center of the table to be shared, and steaming bowls of jasmine rice covered the table. Our conversation quickly took a different turn:
“Hey look at these baby shrimp with their heads on.” Crunch. “They taste kind of like the anchovies my grandmother makes us when we visit her in Australia.”
“Can I have the last piece of squid?”
“This coconut curry is amazing!”
“I love the fish flakes in this mango salad!”
“Look at that whole fish! Can I have the eyeballs please?”
“Oh. Did you want them?”
“No, it’s ok. Go ahead.”
“Does anyone have an extra chopstick? I dropped mine.”
“We ordered fried bananas? Yeah! I love how they’re crunchy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside.”
“Oops. I just tried to ask to waitress for a to-go box, but she gave me a coconut. What should I do with it?”
Glancing to my right, something caught my eye. One of my TCKs friends was licking his plate. For a moment, my jaw dropped. Then I remembered he lived in Mongolia, and that is how Mongolians show appreciation for their food.
I sat at the table, sandwiched in between two of my best friends, laughing inwardly. Warmth spread through me. Did anyone else realize how absolutely ridiculous we sounded? I loved it. I sat back and listened, savoring the moment. It was during instants like these where I longed to freeze time.
I look back over these priceless moments together with mixed feelings. They were hilarious, but they were also bittersweet. My twin sister and I will soon graduate, and I know that I won’t see many of these friends again. But I will never forget our experiences together. This moment, just like many others, is one that I will always hold close to my heart.