I have written far too many words this week and it is the weekend, so perhaps a shorter blog may be allowed.
Yesterday I decided to have some down time after a hectic week and was looking forward to a birthday lunch with girlfriends. What a wonderful treat and boost to sagging energy levels it was.
There’s something incredibly enriching being with girlfriends. I love them dearly, wherever in the world they are. Time nor distance ever separates true friends, they are with you in your heart always.
It’s said you have friends for different times and reasons through your life and I think that’s true.
If we’re lucky we have friends we’ve known for always, our guardian angels who will stand beside us as we weather life’s storms, will take a phone call at three in the morning and be on the next flight if you need them. And you would do just the same for them. We watch our children grow, lose sleep worrying about each other, cry together when life falls apart, celebrate the good times and cheer each other on when we need it. They are our life friends.
In a nomadic, expat environment friendships are stellar – they develop quickly and are intense by necessity. They burn brightly and more often than not shoot away from us when we least expect it. In the time we are with them they become family and life-friends in an alien country away from home.
This time of year is bittersweet for many expats as friends move to pastures new and leave a void that can seem like a black hole. It’s an emotion that squeezes your heart which you won’t acknowledge till the round of goodbyes is over.
Yesterday, laughing and reminiscing, I looked round the table and had a moment of clarity. I was with friends, some I’ve known for a long time and some I’ve only got to know in the last few months. It didn’t matter, what mattered was what each of them meant to me.
We all struggle with losing friends, saying goodbye well and closing the loop – but it is a loop, a circle, with friendship embraced in its centre, safe, nurtured and enduring.
We support and encourage those leaving, listening to their plans for a new life without us. We do not allow ourselves to feel sadness or regret, knowing some day someone will share that same journey with us as we say goodbye. The sadness will come later when their home is lived in by another family and day to day life is poorer for them not being around.
What struck me for the first time yesterday was that friendship can’t be measured by time, it is measured only by sharing, connecting, being comfortable in the same space, and being yourself without judgment or censure.
All of those women round the table were unique, funny, smart, caring, fun and my life has been enriched for knowing them and nothing can lessen or negate that. They will always be a part of me whatever happens in the future.
It was a moment of sheer happiness (possibly helped by a shared bottle of champagne) – friendship doesn’t end when someone moves away, it merely changes shape, colour and texture.
Today I salute my girlfriends everywhere and thank you for your friendship, laughter and most of all for giving of yourselves.
Great post Jane. This comment really struck me as such a truism in expat life:
In a nomadic, expat environment friendships are stellar – they develop quickly and are intense by necessity; they burn brightly and more often than not shoot away from us when we least expect it. In the time we are with them they become family and life-friends in an alien country away from home.
It takes a ‘big’ family to embrace your expat family – and in my experience, a lot of compassion and time. I’m glad my family is one of them.
Thanks Kym. Our expat families are what keep us together when our own families are far away. Sadly I find ‘normal’ friendships much harder these days, I get frustrated at how long it takes to get to know people – some need 30 years before they decide whether you’re friend material or not!
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You honor us…
“All of those women round the table were unique, funny, smart, caring and fun and my life has been enriched for knowing them and nothing can lessen or negate that. They will always be a part of me whatever happens in the future. “
and we feel the same about you. 🙂
Pleased you had a good birthday lunch and you are right, friends are not measured by time, but by the connection we make.
Yes, well written. I am glad that are paths crossed so that you became part of my circle of friends.
What a lovely tribute to friendship a la expat. You write the way you act. No wonder you have many friends who think the world of you, me included.