Seelenerwandte

“To love is easy and therefore common – but to understand – how rare it is!”
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

The Germans call it seelenerwandte, the Italians, anima gemella, and the Americans kindred spirits. 

She gave me a warm hug, then looked me in the eyes and told me that although we were only just meeting in person, she felt as though we had known each other for a very long time. The next week would prove that yes indeed, she and I were kindred spirits. Woman who although very different in cultural upbringing, held inside of us the feeling we had known each other a very long time – a commonality of the heart which cannot be described. 

Kindred spirits mirror one another, and without ego. 

It’s nice when you meet a friend like that. And also very rare. I have a number of friends, yet only one or two I feel a kindred spirt. It isn’t something that grows either. It’s something that simply exists from the moment you meet a person. No matter your differences.

Sometimes the kindred spirt is a dear friend like Sonngard, and occasionally the seelenerwandte is much more. 

———

Knowing I have a great love of architecture, she guided me through MedienHafen in Dusseldorf. We spoke of artists, writers, architecture. Of course we appreciated the same things, however different our views of them were. 

Ahead of us, holding hands, were our children. They themselves finding an anima gemella in one another.

“I feel so much pain for them,” she whispered to me. 

“Me too.”

They had met the last year while her daughter was studying abroad. She and her husband had both done so and wanted the same for their children. My son had dated many girls, and had even claimed to love one or two of them, but when he brought the German home, even though I liked her immediately, I wondered how they’d get along. She was different than the others he’d brought home. They interacted differently too. She challenged him, and he her. Challenged in a good, healthy, loving way. 

She spent many evenings with us and I had a chance to get to know her well. Many times she would talk of her mother and how alike we were. We had already made plans to holiday at the beach in Italy before he leaves for university, so when an invitation came from her parents to make a stop in Germany we accepted.

Being very practical and thinking only with their heads, they agreed they would not try to have a long distance relationship and that they would go their separate ways after the visit. 

“This is uncommon you know – how they get along and balance one another. So sad they live far away and are so young yet. They think only with the head now, but the heart doesn’t work that way. We know this.” 

I thought for a moment before responding. 

“It’s like that, isn’t it Sonngard?  They feel as though they have no time. They’re too young and impatient to understand the years in front of them. Although, maybe the pain is the same when you are old…but for a different reason. When you’re young you don’t understand that there is still time left in this life, and when you are older, you are so keen on just how little time there is left. The pain is the same.” 

As a parent you wish for your children to never feel pain. But they will. You wish to take all the pain from them. But we can’t. 

When we hugged goodby at the airport both of us knew it wasn’t really goodbye. We were old enough to understand how rare a connection like ours was and so vowed to keep it. We’ll visit, talk, etc.

We stepped aside and let our confused children embrace and say goodbye.

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