Patrick slept in the bunk above me in Madrid. Our first night hanging out, we learned how to salsa dance and took several tequila shots. In between the first shot and the second dance, he looked at me very seriously, and said the following words:
Audrey, you’re cool I think. So what’s up with the elephant?
My hand went immediately to my sternum, where my elephant necklace from Matt has lived for the last three years.
No, the little stuffed animal on your bed.
I started laughing uncontrollably, and then fell into explanations. OMG. You noticed Frisco! He’s from my boyfriend. I can’t sleep if I’m not hugging something. I’m a weirdo and have to be cuddled. I need that elephant.
More laughter ensued. I felt a little sheepish telling this German guy who lived above me about my childlike attachments to stuffed animal cuddles, but whatever. I did bring a stuffed animal to Europe. I guess that could be considered weird.
So thus began the friendship of Audrey and Patrick, me being the elephant weirdo under his bed, and he being the German with a misleadingly Irish name. We spent time in Madrid together with the purely magical Way Hostel Clan and then caught up again in Portugal. In Portugal, Patrick befriended lots of Americans and I befriended lots of Germans. Together, we achieved a perfectly harmonious balance that laughed over the stereotypical qualities of both Germans and Americans.
Take German vs. American Facebook etiquette, for instance. Apparently the American propensity to change profile pictures 20 times a year is absolutely unacceptable to the Germans. Germans have no more than 10 profile photos at any given moment. Because I’ve racked up a sweet number of over 100 profile photos, I’m diagnosed as a surefire American, according to the German clan of friends assembled in Portugal.
Another stereotype of Germans that rings to be true: they are punctual and can never waste time. I’d literally roll out of bed at noon everyday and feel excited to wake everyone up for the day, only to find that all the Germans had already showered, eaten breakfast, exercised, gone grocery shopping, accomplished things. Patrick was up so early it made me feel like a sloth in comparison. It’s great to be around Germans though, because you accomplish so much more in your day. No joke.
When we said sayanara to each other, Patrick told me he was glad to meet me, the elephant weirdo in his bed. I pointed out that I was underneath his bed not in it. He apologized for his German-English translations. We vowed to see each other again.
From Patrick, I learned that a good friendship can come out of an embarrassing personal quality, like carrying an elephant around Europe to get a good night’s rest. In essence, the idea to “JUST BE YOURSELF” was reinforced in a tangible way. Thanks Patricio! You’re the best.