The Changing Face: More Friends?

Written by Berdjouhi Esmerian, Brickstone Resident

When I was planning my move to Brickstone “for the rest of my life,” I thought life had reached a point of existence when nothing new would happen anymore. I looked forward to continuing what was left of my days in a nice, comfortable environment with opportunities of some cultural experiences such as concerts at The Philharmonic, and some lectures at various Rochester colleges and universities. I thought I would have my apartment, nice neighbors who have similar interests, and that’s all. Making new friends was not one of the things I looked for, because “it was too late.” I would never find or make new connections like the ones I had in the past.

Ever since I can remember, I have had a close bond with my friends throughout my life. Despite the fact that, as a result of the turbulent times of the 1960s in the Middle East, life threw all of us throughout the world in different countries, we stayed connected and our friendships lasted our lifetimes. One friend from my Armenian elementary schooldays in Alexandria lived in Australia for a few years with her husband and children, then moved to Montreal. Even though we kept in touch with letters, we never saw each other for many, many years, until the year 2000 when she and her husband came to Rochester and we met face to face after more than forty years.

Another friend was from the Scottish School for Girls, who settled in Toronto with her family. We never lost touch and throughout all our years we visited each other. We were “family.” I drove to Toronto many times to stay with her and often she came to Rochester to visit me.

I made another very close friend after coming to Rochester, one whom I still miss because she passed away just one month shy of her 61st birthday. I sat with her the day before, holding her hand. We had been “soul sisters” as she liked to say.

I am still in touch with my three college buddies I met in Beirut in 1957 even though the four of us are in four different cities in the world. Through the years we managed to meet here and there, in Toronto, in Copenhagen, and in New York City.

I’ve been retired for twenty-four years now from a career that lasted for thirty years in the same company. Some of the friendships I made are still going on in the same caring manner, such as meeting for coffee, lunch, or other outings.

I can go on and on. All my far away friends and I keep in touch with phone calls, emails, and Skype. And my Rochester friends and I keep in touch in person attending lunches, movies, a cocktail hour here and there, and shopping trips.

So, I was done making friends. I was looking forward to a simple, quiet, content-with-my-own-company life.

But Brickstone turned out to prove me wrong with an unexpected magic: caring neighbors many of whom have been added to top my list of lifetime friends. My Brickstone neighbors are no longer just neighbors—they have become my friends. Every day I am amazed for finding so many caring and affectionate people all collected in one location. Everyone has his or her own health or other physical problems, yet everyone is also caringly interested in everyone else’s well-being. Everyone is ready to give someone a ride if needed. Everyone is ready with moral support. And these “new friends” are not only the residents, but also the staff—ready, willing, available, and with a big smile.

I found not only a new set of friends, but a second family as well.

Check out Berdjouhi’s book So Many Homelands.

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