One of my old university friends, who lives elsewhere these days, is texting me in the afternoon. He has a friend who had quite an unlucky and stressful day, trying to get by train through several countries back to the city where they both live. She won’t make it tonight anymore, thanks to delays and failures of trains, and will be stranded for a night in the city where I live.
She would need a friendly smile and an emergency bed, he writes— whether I could help out? Sure I can. I have two friends visiting this week, one staying at my place, but there is always the extra camping mattress.
We pick her up from the bus station and walk with her to our place. We’re all having dinner together, asking her about her journey, where she is going and her life at the moment. We are telling about us a bit. About our universities, our common interests. Our hometowns and chosen homes. She hides it well that she is probably very tired, and we have a joyful evening together. She fits perfectly into our group— it does not feel like having a stranger here, but a friend. Natural.
Eventually we go to bed, all of us need the sleep.
The next morning, our other friends join us again in our flat and we have breakfast as a group before our guest for the night is leaving for the bus that is supposed to bring her finally to her destination.
She is thanking me for the spontaneous help, but actually I feel like thanking her for visiting— forgetting that this was not planned— because I truly enjoyed having her at our place. Friendships have been made under stranger circumstances.