It’s that time when we get to see everyone altogether, the time when we get to cherish each other’s company, catching up on the ups and downs in each other’s life. These are the gatherings that I look forward to, the ones with our “friendmily”, my family away from home.

After a festive, heart-warming baby shower at our friend’s place a few weekends ago, we decided to all get dinner at this Hunan restaurant, Wonderful, in Millbrae. I was never a huge fan of spices, and rarely enjoyed spicy Chinese food, though I don’t mind them. And when dining with friends who are spicy food lovers, I am always that person who would shamelessly asks for a bowl of clear broth to dip all my spicy food in. Just like all of our other gatherings, we ordered family style, two tables full of food. From what I can remember, we ordered hot iron skillet with beef, spicy fish fillet, Hunan iron griddle with beef, sautéed pork tripe with Chinese celery, super-sized green onion pancakes, string beans with pork, boneless chili sautéed chicken, shredded potato with vinegar, spicy tilapia with soft tofu, Dan Dan noodles, Godfather’s noodles (hand-cut noodles w. chili and pork), and a few other dishes.

Entering the restaurant not feeling too excited about the food, I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed EVERY single dish. Perhaps it was partly because of the company of our close friends, or perhaps it was the owner’s sincere recommendations and the waiters’ attentiveness, I certainly had one of the best dining experience with spicy food at a Chinese restaurant.

Besides the dining experience, this is the kind of moments that I’ve always held near endear to my heart.

I always feel extremely blessed to have met the people I’ve befriended in in the last 15 years abroad. As a firm believer of “everything happens for a reason”, I also believe that every friendship I am holding onto, or that I once had, made me who I am today. Those that I spent my childhood with, those whom I went to school with, and those who had taken parts in my life in any other settings all gave me the greatest gift of of all the precious memories and priceless lessons.

I still find it interesting how everyone change and evolve after school, myself included. Depending on what stage of life you are at, depending on the environment and circumstances you are in, priorities may shift over time. For me personally, it was a hard and sad realization. As some say, “not all friendship are lifelong, but they are in our hearts for lifetime.” Indeed, as life goes on, friends come and go, though all for a reason, a good one in fact. Time seems to pass more quickly every passing year, and it is probably wise to let go of the relationships that are built on convenience sooner than later, reserving my time for the moments that matter, the relationships that are meaningful to me.

Each friendship I once had or that I am still lucky to hold on to helped me grow, defined my identity in some way, allowed me to know myself better, and further shaped and affirmed my values.

I probably should have said this sooner -  to all my wonderful friends, I am the luckiest to have met all of you and thank you for your love and care, as always.