Hello…Goodbye

 The only thing that is constant is change.

I knew it was inevitable.  Part of the expat experience is the presumed lack of permanence.  We are just visitors here after all.  “Home” still exists elsewhere.  Heathrow is a revolving door as people come and go with each year.  A common question upon meeting someone is, “How long have you been here?”  And the follow up is, “Are you staying?”

Over the years, seasoned expats get jaded.  They don’t even bother to get to know you if you are only here for a year or two.  Why invest time in someone who is not here to stay?  I haven’t been in London long enough to feel that way, but I am getting a first taste of desertion.

We met a wonderful family from DC our first week here.  It is a small world with six degrees of separation among us, and we were “set up” by mutual acquaintances and agreed to get together just days after arriving.   After our blind date we all “clicked”, and we knew the relationship would evolve.  Together, Jill and I got lost, navigated the neighborhood, shared all our daily discoveries, dog-eared the tourist books with things to do, wined and dined, found a grocery store that delivers and a good place to get a cheap manicure.  Our children progressed from dutifully enduring awkward moments to playfully sharing private jokes.

Time travels in dog years for the expat.  One year feels like many more, and the friendships forged bond quickly.  In a short time, we became true friends.

But their expat experience expires after only one year.

The cycle continues as a new crop of expats are getting ready to jump across the pond.  Jill has shown her house to these Americans who are nervously navigating their move by looking for a home, a school, a neighborhood.  Everything is in front of them as Jill looks back with a rear view glance.

Ultimately, Jill and I will end where we began with a long hit list of things we must fit in and do together before the end of the school year.  The difference is she is now gearing up as her experience is winding down.  She will take off, and I will carry on.

She and her gang will be missed.

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