one of my favorite things about traveling is discovering the quiet corners, off the beaten path, away from the tourist traps—where you can witness authentic moments, slices of daily life unfolding.
i took this photo in florence, in a sleepy little nook off of piazza santo spirito. it was one of those shots that you couldn't have staged any better: four little old ladies, sitting on a bench kibitzing about life, catching up on the neighborhood gossip, watching passers-by, all while enveloped by the shadow of a huge tree hanging overhead. the branches emanated from this core, a nucleus of friends who i was certain had sat in that very spot an infinite number of times before, doing the very same thing.
here, in italy, thousands of miles away from home, i was reminded of my own friends. sure, these "nonnas" had seen a few more years than us, but their gestures, their comfort with each other, they way they finished each other's sentences and laughed with hilarity at each other's stories—all of that was intimately familiar.
it occurred to me that some things are universal. though we all have our unique stories and experiences, we also have (hopefully) a core set of true friends and family, who aren't just bound to us by blood or obligation (those connections have most likely fallen off long ago), but who we truly cherish. who know our true selves, without pomp or pretense. to whom we can tell our deepest fears. who we know won't judge us, but who will also be straight, and call bullshit to keep us honest. who share memories that never get old in the retelling. who will always have our back, and who know you've got theirs.
friendships like these are priceless. like the image above, they ground us, anchor us, support us, inspire us. they make us laugh out loud on a regular clip (you know who you are, ladies!). they help us make sense of the madness. remind us that we are not alone. in short, they help us live life to the fullest.
as i get older, i find that the old adage is true: the more things change in life, the more some things stay the same. the bond of true friendship is one of the few things that endures.