How I remember Solidarity

Solidarity is alive! I found her on facebook today. We used to be good friends until the early nineties and haven’t heard from each other since. I tried to remember how she looked like. If we met right now would we recognize each other? We have both changed, that’s for sure. Now that I finally found her, I click on her profile to discover more information, more hints. What kind of person did she become? In her profile description are no pictures, only this: “Solidarity is a union arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes and peoples”. She is “related to a community of feelings, purposes, a community of responsibilities and interests.” I never thought of her that rationally. I never could explain her… I guess we were too close for that. What I remember of Solidarity is a sentiment rather than words. Thinking back, I took her for granted as if a friend like her was the most natural thing in the world.

Before Solidarity and I first met at the school ceremony in Bosnia I ran into her couple of times by chance. As far as I recall she always seemed to be a prevailing spirit and that provoked a drive inside of me forcing me to compete with her. I finally started preparing to become a pioneer, which was about to happen during the 29th of November school ceremony. I was busy learning the lines of the pioneer’s pledge by heart in advance in order to – in the climax of the exciting moment – make no mistakes when loudly reciting it after the leader’s speech. I myself wouldn’t have bothered preparing something that unnecessary but I wanted to be better than Solidarity and I thought that this was my chance to prove it. In fact, I was extremely fascinated by her. She seemed to have an old soul hidden in a child’s body. She was ‘the old little-one’. For that reason I thought that if I come close to Solidarity I will also come close to growing up. 

Under her political views she wrote “mutual responsibility” and her religion was “common sense”. She is currently a member of one social group, which is ‘Free Tibet’ and her favorite music genre is world music. I see that she is French: Solidarité. There are two possible reasons I can speculate about:
Some of her ancestors were French, which made everything much easier. That would mean she has a French origin. Funny. I never perceived her that way… Would anything have been different if I had? Back then I wasn’t interested in stuff like origins. I believed that all people are somehow the same.
The other possibility would be that she has been living in France for a long time and thus was able to get a French passport because it enables her to travel around the world freely – without the visa-stress. I bet she travels a lot. Did she eventually have to marry for that?

Back then I was doing things to impress her, things I thought she would do: making my seat available to elders when using public transport; greeting neighbors and everybody who comes and goes through my building and sometimes helping them with the transport of their groceries. Later on, my impression-attempts included more adventurous stuff like dancing Lambada at my first party or trying out smoking behind the school building. Solidarity and I went through this together.

On the big day of the 29th I was fully equipped with clothes and symbols.
“Today, as I become a Pioneer; I give my Pioneer’s word of honor…”
Solidarity was standing next to me, upright and straight, repeating the lines.
“That I will study and work tirelessly; respect parents and my seniors and be a loyal and honest friend…”
She was so loud I could hardly recognize anything else but her omnipresent voice. So I screamed even louder wanting to over-shout her.
“That I will spread brotherhood and unity; and that I will value all peoples of the world who respect freedom and peace.”

Thinking back, I reckon this was the moment when we became friends. I never met someone like Solidarity in the years that followed. Every now and then, I used to have a nightmare where we are about to meet and she is asking: “What’s in it for me?” And there were times when I was not even sure if she ever was real. When those moments came I used to take a look at something that proved her existence: a newspaper-cover that was shot on our big day. Thousands of newspaper’s readers have seen us together lifting up our schoolbooks. And whom to trust if not the newspapers?

A while after we separated I was to witness something disturbing about our picture: Solidarity’s image has been fading away more rapidly than mine. So I started drawing over her outlines. For some of them it was already too late. I had to guess where they were standing, how thick or thin they were. The bones, the nose, the chin, the lips, the skin… She doesn’t look like a real person anymore, but that is how I remember her.

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