I felt the need to write a little something about one of the bloody hardest things you´ll ever have to do being an expat. Not that we like that term really, but, well, we are. Leaving your home country and starting a new life in a different one is (for most people) a choice you make and yes I´ve had my fair share of, “well you decided to move to Spain, you chose to leave England.” Yeah, thanks. Excellent supportive advice. The move is physically and psychologically hard for everyone I´m sure, just as much as the next person, but obviously you have all these wonderful, exciting new places to explore, new people to meet and new food to scoff (my primary reason for coming here, always put food before language).
I want to talk about one thing in particular. Any expats reading this will totally understand. You know that horrible empty feeling you have when friends you´ve made in the new country, also expats, finally decide to move back home? I´ve experienced that twice this year (well 5 times if you count the people individually!) and it hit me way harder than I anticipated. These two couples are people I have only known for less than the 2 years I´ve lived here in Pais Vasco, but they´re those kind of rare people you click with instantly and we all got pretty close and have been through more than just getting wasted on a night out together. I stupidly dropped one of them off at the airport, thinking I´d help him out to the last minute, and I honestly don´t know how I didn´t crash on the drive back home. Like I said, it hit me unexpectedly hard. Another couple with their gorgeous baby girl I escorted them from their home to the airport bus in town. That was even worse as the journey there was kind of stressful/hilarious with all the suitcases and people and pram etc, but when we got to the bus station they kind of threw themselves on the bus that was about to leave and then we all realised, shit, er, we have to say bye in two minutes and there´s too much to say but I don´t know what to say or how to say it and so a tearful hug and I had to run off. No way was I staying to see the bus drive away. So I went and sat on the floor round the corner and cried down the phone to Javi. Had to quickly learn how to say “I´ve just said goodbye to my friends” as people were asking the crazy, sweaty, sobbing girl on the floor what was wrong.
Another factor in all this which is personally hard for me to take, is to see said friends enjoying their new life and starting new jobs and projects there and you´re not part of it anymore. That saddens me. Hang on, don´t think Jesus Sam, what a cow for not being happy for them doing what they want in life. No no no, that is not how this is. Of COURSE I´m happy for them living where they want to live, bringing up children surrounded by family and friends – I´m just a little jealous I´m not there to be happy for them to their face. You understand my point. A WhatsApp emoticon just doesn´t quite cut it.
Losing friends living so close also means you start evaluating the friends you have remaining, just the expats I mean. The thought of more friends leaving brings a lump to my throat everytime, and yes yes, live in the present, enjoy the time they´re here. I´m just writing down what everyone thinks but has to swallow and say the useless (but true) snippets of advice like, “oh but think of the times you can go visit! Now you have friends to go stay with all over the world!” Yep. I also knew that before you said it. Excitement comes later, when plans are made and flights are booked. For the following days after someone has left, it´s not easy to think so far forward to those times.
The washing machine is beeping furiously now as I´ve left it finished this whole time, so I will finish on a little note for all my friends who I´ve taken to the airport, taken halfway to the airport, seen them off on the plane, had to say bye early, and will see in the future! LET´S GET PLANNING ALREADY!! My Medina Girls, my many Kiwis, my French au pair partner, Jick, Drew Barrymore (had to be done)… and anyone I´ve forgotten in the kerfuffle!