Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How I found a fratello

A person goes through life meeting people. We are constantly meeting people. Some stick and some don't. I believe this to be even more true when traveling. During my five summers I spent working at a sports camp in Switzerland I met a lot of people. It was my first summer and my roommate was an Italian named Nicola Stella. That was almost a decade ago.

Now, after several summers/winters in Switzerland, countless beers shared across the globe, and a master's program that gave me the opportunity to live in Torino, I have infiltrated Stella's social circle. His network of friends is unlike anything I have ever known back home. Stella's collection of friends have shared the same playground, they remember the names of each other's high school girlfriends and, having remained close even after university, formed an enduring bond often reserved for brothers.
Top row: Mimmi, Guido, Fabio. Bottom row Matteo, Stella
I have one wonderful sister but no brothers. Growing up my older sister taught me things I would have never otherwise known. But just as I can appreciate what she has taught me I have always been envious of others who have brothers. I imagine that dynamic would be different. Just as my sister instilled in me a sense of style (which has worked with varying degrees of success) I believe a brother would teach skills from the other side of the spectrum.

Fortunately I found five brothers. This small group of guys who were Stella's friends when I met them nine years ago have since become some of my closest friends. Roughly the same age, we have watched each other evolve, sharing advice and insights along the way. I have come to appreciate each of them with their own distinctive personality. Jokes and jabs aside I admire how they look out for each other, overcoming challenges not alone but as an elite squad of friends finding their way through life.

Who knows why we meet the people we meet. I can't guess why a random set of circumstances led me to work that first summer in Switzerland. But one of the many things that traveling has taught me is to never take anything for granted, whether it is finding a shepherd who shows you a hidden source of fresh water or getting the "ok" to stay at the Shakespeare and Co bookshop. Logistical good fortune aside, the people I have met from traveling are what I am truly thankful for. To have found such a friend as Nicola Stella will remain one of the greatest gifts of my life, made only sweeter because through him I have found five brothers I would have never otherwise known.

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