“We’re leaving Doha.”
“We’re leaving in a few weeks!”
“Where’s my two months notice?!”
“Haha! Other people only require one month!”
“You better text me constantly. Don’t be an Expat Friend. Be a Friend.”
“You should copyright that!”
A conversation that took place just last night that I half expected, half hated. I was just glad knowing that this wouldn’t be the end of a (somewhat new) friendship.
Expat friends – you know them well. You meet them, it’s love at first sight, you go out loads of times during the course of your friendship, and then comes D-Day (Departure Day.)
They leave. You’re left behind to mope around and curse this temporary life you’re living. You try to hold on – of course you both do! You text a couple of times.
“How are you? How are things there?”
“Oh it’s amazing! So different from so and so. You should really come visit!”
Then the texts trickle down to nothing and you’re left with a few memories of what was probably a short period of your life. You think about them every now and then – a flash of memory as you sit in a restaurant where you had both visited frequently, or when Facebook shows you your own memories of the year before with a photo of that going away party they had. It doesn’t hurt, it’s just a pang and then it’s gone.
It sucks, that’s all that can be said. A relationship requires a lot and once the one thing connecting the both of you no longer exists, where does that leave you?
It’s easy making friends as an expat – well okay, not easy. But it’s a fast paced process. We’re all so eager to forge friendships in a country not our own that when we meet someone we have even the slightest thing in common with, we latch onto them and vow never to let go.
But don’t fret! For every 5 expat friends you make, a Friend is made as well!
They’ve been gone for a year? No worries, you’re seeing them in a month in Thailand or Sri Lanka for your next travel adventure together. Have a problem and need someone to vent to? They’re conveniently always there thanks to the blessing that is WhatsApp. Stop talking for a few weeks? It doesn’t matter because one text is all you need to feel as though the last time you saw them was just a few days ago during lunch. These are the friends you invite to your home country, to your wedding or other celebrations abroad, to any other country you’re both dying to visit. These are the ones who won’t stop talking to you once complaining about the horrible weather stops becoming something you have to talk about daily. These are the friends you make for life, the friends you can meet with after 10 years of not seeing one another and instantly fall back into the same pattern – no awkwardness, just pure friendship. These are the friends who feel like family, and you thank the expat life for helping you find this gem.
Losing an expat friend is hard, keeping them is harder. Finding a Friend is hard, but losing them? You never do.
See you soon Friend, I will miss you.