Expat Life

Leaving on a jet plane…

Today I said goodbye to a friend. He’s a fellow expat, who arrived here from the UK shortly after us. He’s accepted a post in Vancouver, BC. Yeah, he’ll still be in the same country, but at a little under three thousand miles away, it’s not much different to him being back in Britain. He’s sold all the furniture he bought from Ikea a few months ago – it’s gone to new homes with other expats, us included. The only thing he’s taking is his car. It’s making the trip by rail while he flies out.

I don’t know when we’ll see him again.

He’s jumped on and off of the expat merry-go-round over the years, having done a stint in the Middle East before settling in the UK so his kids could finish their education. We still don’t know what opportunities will arise in our future or where they’ll take us. The Middle East, with its untaxed earnings, is an alluring option when you’re looking to make a dent in your mortgage and counteract the money-haemorrhage that children kick off, or maybe one day our paths will cross again in Vancouver – who knows…

As much as it’s about new beginnings, expatriate life is about saying goodbye and letting go. For every thrilling new experience there’s a gut-wrenching parting. It’s a nomadic existence where you carry the things that really matter within you. Relationships take on greater significance when you’re aware of their finite quality. We’ll miss the shared meals, walks, conversations and laughs. For now, we’ll have to be content with emails and memories.

And our new bed!


7 thoughts on “Leaving on a jet plane…

  1. It’s that time of year again when friends find out about new postings and they begin to ‘leave’ well before their departure date – planning and starting the process of moving. It’s a tough adjustment as the dynamics of a friendship undergo subtle changes as we start to say farewell. On the plus side, friendships gained are never lost – this week I had news from a dear friend that after 4 years away on two assignments she will be moving back. The news made my heart sing!

  2. I remember one lady deliberately keeping her four-year-old daughter away from our expat group because said daughter got so upset whenever one of her little friends in the group moved away. I still can’t decide if this was a good idea or not.

    • That’s a tough one. We always worry about the negative effects on children of the expatriate lifestyle, but there are both negative and positive aspects to any lifestyle – isn’t life about learning to take the rough with the smooth?
      I think it’s important for children to be a part of what’s happening. It’s better they learn from their parents reaction that it’s normal and survivable, than wonder what this awful thing is they’re being shielded from, or worse, why people disappear without saying goodbye.

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