The other day a group of women gathered at a restaurant by a golf course and surprised me with a ‘you wrote a book!’ celebratory lunch. I was beyond touched and grateful and all of those other good words.
I looked at my lovely friends and felt such gratitude to know such amazing women, but it was tinged with sadness.
Sadness that so many of the amazing friends I’ve made in the past 5.5 years have already left and, in all probability, I will never see them again. Sure, we all think we will see our expat friends again, but the reality is it probably won’t happen, especially for friends who aren’t from our home country.
During lunch I felt the ghosts of friends past floating around the restaurant. Prompting such strong memories over the next few days that tears sprung regularly. I’m not usually an overly sentimental person but these past couple of days the ghosts of friends past have been my constant companions. Sitting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear.
My first expat friend was a sassy Texan, with two girls around the same age as mine. She tells me that in our first conversation I used a swear word and she knew then we were going to be good friends. We bonded over our shared leasing dramas and took a trip to Thailand together within 6 weeks of meeting. I shared two Thanksgivings with them, bewildered that mashed sweet potato with marshmallows was a savoury side dish, but pumpkin was a dessert food. We spent a Christmas in Australia together, watching our girls tear off wrapping paper while wearing pyjamas and bed hair. Within 20 months they returned to the States.
I’m unsure why but a lot of my friends in those early years were American, but now my friends are almost exclusively Australian or Kiwis. I miss my American friends. The NJ family who lived 9/11, running to catch the ferry home to safety on the day the world changed. Her husband made the best ginger cosmopolitans in the entire world! The Southern family whose home was furnished with amazing family heirlooms, and who made me the one-and-only martini I’ve ever had. Straight spirits with an olive. Ouch! The Utah friend that I never did spend enough time with. The Texan I connected with via this blog before I even left Australia. The Texans who arrived a couple and left as a family, flying back to their home with a toddler and a newborn.
I miss them all.