Good friends are terribly hard to find. I’m not talking about casual acquaintances or drinking buddies; I’m talking about real, true friends. The kind of person who — as the saying goes — wouldn’t just bail you out of jail, but would wake up in the cell next to you declaring, “That was awesome!”
Finding good friends is especially difficult for me; an expat with a grasp of the German language roughly equivalent to that of a 1st grader wearing an epilepsy helmet. I’m also shy, with a pretty good case of generalized anxiety disorder to match, so I like to stay in the quiet safety of my home as long as my German wife will allow. (She makes me leave the house every month or so for things like “fresh air,” “sunshine” and “to not be a creepy vampire American man.”)
Of course there are expat meetup groups all over the place here in Hannover, Germany — Hannover4EnglishSpeakers, InterNations Hannover and ToyTown Germany, just to name a few — but attending events like these requires live and active social skills; not the morbidly introspective tendencies at my command.
Now, my wife, on the other hand, has zero problem making friends: she’s smart, beautiful, charming, outgoing and warmhearted. Through her, we’ve made several close friends here in Germany, and we love them. We celebrate them, in fact, sometimes going on for an hour or two about all the ways in which they rule. This was well-demonstrated the other morning as we were discussing one of our friends down in Baden-Württemberg. My wife stopped speaking for a moment, nodded her head in affirmation and concluded:
“Yes, she is a good friend. She would help me steal a horse.”*
*From the German expression: “Ein Freund mit dem man Pferde stehlen kann.” (And as an American who is very much familiar with old western movies, I know this is not a term to be taken lightly because they used to hang you for that shit.)