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.