The thing about being an expat is that life is very transient.
You make friends, then they move away. So you make more friends, then they move away. Then you make yet more friends and it’s your turn to be leaving. People come, people go. All make an impression on your life, be it for a reason, season or a lifetime.
Living as an expat has led to us having friends all over the world. And I mean all over. Between us we cover four continents (it used to be five until our friends moved from Zambia to Shanghai….)
Expat living has also led to us saying goodbye to those who we leave behind, and those that leave us behind. Each time I think I am prepared. Yet each time it knocks me for six. That I can no longer just “pop” here or there, that whilst they may still be on the end of the phone they’re no longer at the end of the road.
With the recent blockade here in Qatar, coupled with the fact that we’ve now been here for a whole year, we are started to see more and more announcements from friends who are moving on.
The first school mum I met grabbed me one morning to arrange a last playdate between the boys. To say goodbye to Doha living together, though we managed to meet in the UK.
As the great summer migration began, people started to drop like flies.
They left the heat of the sandpit behind never to return, time to start again in the UK, Australia, America.
And the list continues to grow with others tentatively announcing future plans to leave.
People leave, they move on, you move on. The expat roundabout so to speak.
With every expat adventure comes friendships. Every friendship is different. Friends come in all shapes and sizes and are with you through various walks of life, expat or not. It all just seems a little enhanced when you are an expat. A little more raw, more intense. Friendships are formed quickly, and torn apart by distance just as quickly, when you are living away from your home country.
It is said that friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. And, as Natalie says, it is true that a friend is just that, a friend, no matter the reason they are in your life, this statement holds true for me.
Friends for a reason…
From the early days of motherhood, collecting anyone with a similar due date to me, to the early days of expat life, to now, my friendship group has changed somewhat.
Granted we’ve moved countries, twice, but even if we hadn’t there was some natural ebb and flow.
From those you meet once and exchange numbers with, to those who you attend baby class with every week. As your life changes and moves with the seasons some of these friendships make it through and some don’t.
At the time the friendships that sustain you through night feeds, through the why does my baby’s poo look this colour?? Those friendships which help you through the darkness of the early days feel as though they’ll be there forever.
The friendships that are collected at the start of expat life, every invitation that you say YES to, every number you collect in your phone. Those friends that you make as you begin your new life, getting to grips with a new city, frantic calls as to where to find milk, and what nursery did you recommend again?
Those friendships that are a lifeline to you at a crucial time in your life. The ones that pull you through the tough moments, the tough days. Where you can’t imagine a time when they weren’t in your life, nor can you imagine a time when they won’t be in your life.
Those friendships that are now the odd Facebook like as you scroll past, heck those friendships may not have even survived the latest Facebook cull you did.
Yet those friendships will always be shared memories of the past without the promise of future memories. A fond smile as you remember.
The friends for a reason.
… a season …
Those friendship groups at school, at work, in the UK, in Dubai. Friends that you socialise with daily, weekly, monthly. The coffee trips, the soft play outings, the brunches, the after work down the pub. The Christmas party, the office gossiping. The walks through the park pushing prams, the walks chasing toddlers.
All in the moment. All happening then. And then, you go. And with it leaving those groups behind.
… or a lifetime
And then you get those gems.
Those friends who you just can’t shake off, nor would you want to.
The ones who don’t care that you’ve changed since becoming a mother, even if they aren’t at that stage yet. Who love your kids like their own and wear their Aunty badge with honour. Those who realise that although you’re not quite the same girl you are when you were dancing on the bar in the middle of Malia all those years ago, you are still you. With mini people attached.
The girl who becomes your sister.
The ones who you bond with instantly over the kids. Where your kids play together nicely, most of the time, and you can put the world to rights over coffee. Or wine. The ones where it’s more than just your friends and my friends, but family friends.
From big massive breakfasts, to barbecues on the beach, to holidays together. Friends who you know it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, or they are, that you will make the effort to get on that plane. To make that trip. To go and visit.
Those friends who have shared life experiences with you, at the same time. Those friends who have not. To those where it doesn’t matter if you saw them yesterday or three years ago when you get in the room together it’s like you’ve never been apart.
Where it doesn’t matter where you met, at work, online, in soft play, all that matters is you met.
And for those that are leaving for new pastures? Mrs “you can wash your pants in my machine while the kids hang out” well you my dear are a lifer.