"Matching" services have never appealed much to me. Despite my non religious outlook on life, I've always admitted to myself that I hoped something like fate or destiny might lead me to the right people to befriend.
But, as it turns out, finding the right people seems to be increasingly difficult in this age. Dropping by coffee shops no longer results in unexpectedly wonderful conversation with strangers, since each is focused on their laptop or coworkers (Starbucks is the new hotspot for staff meetings and study hours). Plugged into music, every two-seater table is its own universe, separate from and ignorant of the rest of humanity.
Enter the OU Cousins program. Just as my adventurous side began to yearn for people of different backgrounds to become my friends, this program sent me an email asking if I wanted to meet an international student.
The matching party was, to put it bluntly, hell. I arrived late to a chaos of swarms of girls chatting (quite loudly), attempting to get to know one another by asking questions and struggling to hear the answers over the ruckus and noise. I was confused. Everyone seemed to have a match already, and as soon as I struck up a conversation, the announcer would ask us to "rotate" (in more of a crowd than concentric circles) and find someone new to chat to.
Then, I met Olivia. Amongst the confused, she had just as lost a look as I'm sure I did, and we found each other. After a short enough conversation to determine we were both sane and apparently compatible, we agreed to be each other's cousins, if only just to escape the craziness. I immediately felt a sense of connection; when one slightly aggressive girl interrupted our conversation, I politely told her we had already decided to match up. And she got the hint and went on her way.
Since that fateful evening in September, Olivia has introduced me to her friends, with whom I hang out nearly every weekend. We've watched movies together, laughed together, cooked and baked together, cuddled like sisters... I have truly made a friend for life. Neither of us saw our "cousin-ship" as an obligation or weekly task. It felt like we were immediately true friends who hung out by choice, not because of some match in a computer system.
Next Wednesday, I will simultaneously celebrate Olivia's birthday and say goodbye to her for the foreseeable future. And it's pretty scary. I have learned so much about this new friend and about myself. I'm bidding farewell as I go on an adventure similar to the one she's living right now. At the least, I know we'll meet again soon enough somewhere, perhaps on either side of the pond. I've made some amazing memories with this girl and it's not the end of making new ones.