Sunday, June 19, 2016

When good friends go

A few years ago an expat friend went back to the US.  Her husband's work mission had ended.  I felt sad to see her go, and I wrote a post about it.  I talked about how there were the expats who stayed, like me, and those who were destined to go back to their home countries, 24/7 supermarkets and friendly customer service.  But I took the post down after a day because I felt bad putting my friends into categories like that.

But here I am today facing much the same situation.  A dear friend is going back to Canada with her family. I've known her four years and we've had great talks, sometimes commiserating, sometimes missing our home cultures, sometimes revelling in our new culture.  Our kids played together and spoke Frenglish.  We drank countless cups of tea together and enjoyed conversations about motherhood, travel and anything and everything.  But those face-to-face conversations will become few and far between now. I know going back is the best thing for her and her family.  But the selfish part of me wishes she could stay.

So I am not the first to say it, but being an expat means facing these moments.  It means goodbyes and hellos and Skype sessions and international air transit that isn't always as glamorous as it seems.  It means meeting new expats, welcoming them, getting to know them, and wishing them well if/when they go back. When you are my kind of expat, the kind who is here for the long-haul, you have to get used to it.  You know people will come into your lives and enrich you and then they will go on to continue their journey elsewhere.  And that you have to continue your own journey.

But as my other fellow expats have told me, the ones who are probably staying a good long while like me, we've (still) got each other.  And if there is one thing being an expat has taught me, it's that distance doesn't mean that friendships and relationships with family will dwindle and fade away.  You may have to work a little harder at it, be more creative, but good friends stay good no matter which time zone they are in.

So bon voyage to my expat friends!  I know your wanderlust will bring you back in our neck of the woods sooner than you think.  And as they say in French, "ce n'est qu'un au revoir!" (We're just saying, "see you later/soon"!)

I'd like to dedicate this post to all my friends, near and far, coming and going and staying. You are all dear to me!


Lindle said...

I know you and Juliette will miss the wonderful friends you've made with Jessica's family. The other ex-pats become your extended family and support. You are blessed to have them. Now you have some Canadians to visit when you hop over the ocean!

I Say Oui said...

What’s interesting is that we can’t always predict who will stay long-term and who will end up returning to their home country or moving elsewhere. I’ve met some expats who after many years, decided to move, and others who didn’t know how long they’d stay and just kept staying another year. I have a couple of expat friends who are in married or in a couple and/or have a child and seem really settled in France but think about moving to the States at some point. It doesn’t mean they will, but it is a possibility down the road. Living abroad has definitely given me a kind of complex where I am wary about getting too attached to people who are not “permanent,” but it’s hard because there are a lot of cool people, nothing is really permanent anyway, and as a friend pointed out to me, even Americans in the U.S. move cities a lot. What I’m saying is, I relate. :)