Whenever I’m particularly nostalgic, I like to think back to exactly how many people I have claimed to, or who have claimed to me, that we would be friends forever. I usually stop when the list grows too naively, foolishly long. I forgive myself those who I claimed life-long allegiance to from Kindergarten until about mid-high school, as friendships that last more than a year through schooling basically count as a lifetime friendship, anyway. But even as I’ve grown older, I seem to be perfectly confident of the longevity of the friendships I adopt, only to see them evaporate once the situation no longer holds us in one another’s company.
Describing orientation when we first entered Korea, one friend recalled the experience as a sort of friendship buffet. Everyone put on their brightest smiles, turned their personalities up to 11, and became obnoxious, exaggerated parodies of themselves, creating a giant sea of Pauly Shore characters. It was a sort of, “And if you pick me, this is the sort of zaniness you’ll get! Heyo!” People marked their territories as different person archetypes, sought out others like them, and staked claims on the people they found coolest. They would spend the next year with these people, and they needed to acquire them as soon as humanly possible, lest they be left alone and, most horrifically, uncool-seeming in Korea.