Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Being an expat best friend in 3 super hard steps



I've said it before and I'll say it again. I met my best friend and my husband on the same day. You can awwww all you want but if you've been around these parts for a while you'll know they aren't the same people. I love my husband as much as I love sleeping in my own bed but he is not my best friend. Jamie is my best friend. For Jamie and I it was love at first sight. I kid you not. We've been all up in each others business since the day we met and we have no plans to change that. To the point where we have decided after we've both sent our husbands to an early grave (let's me honest we are going to out live them out of sheer force of stubbornness) we have decided to move in together, get lots and lots of cat and books, wear ridiculous hats and spend our days complaining about everything and everyone while her long suffering children (also my godchildren) hope we will die in our sleep within moments of each other so they no longer have to hear, "you know what would be a good idea...."

This is our plan. 

The only wrench that keeps getting thrown into our friendship is that I keep moving. Up until 2011 the furthest we've apart was a 2 hour drive. We haven't lived in the same city since shortly after her Education degree grad but we always lived close enough to drive to see each other. Then Switzerland happened. She found herself in the weird position of being so incredibly happy for us while her heart was breaking at the same time. I was in a similar position. I was so excited for the opportunity but devastated I would be so very far away.

After three years of this Jamie and I have become experts at doing this expat best friendship thing. And it would be reminisce of us not to share what we've figured out (by the way Jamie, I'm assuming you'll agree with all this which is why I'm saying we.) 

Step 1: Accepting the fact that you're missing not just the big things but the little things. 

Jamie and I interact every day in some fashion. It's rare that we go a day without some sort of interaction whether it's email or social media or iMessage. We interact every single day usually throughout most of the day. This is all well and good but it doesn't make not being there any easier. There are moments where you just need your best friend. Whether it's to tell you whether or not you look terrible in your outfit or you need someone to judge dresses on "Say yes to the dress" with. Those little moments are gone and you need to accept it. And it sucks. Big time. But the sooner you accept it the less you dwell on it. 

Step 2: Develop a love/hate relationship with the postal system.

Jamie and I are old school. We send things through the mail. A lot. Postcards and packages mostly. Here's the thing I live in a country that prides themselves on an efficient postal system. Jamie on the other hand lives in Canada where I constantly worry about whether or not packages are going to get there in one piece. Whereas Jamie just releases her packages into the Canada Post wilderness and hopes to jaysus that it gets here before the apocalypse. But then when those packages do arrive. So much love is crammed into those pages and envelopes. In all the frustration that the postal system can cause when they finally hand me something that allows me to be in a space touched by my best friend I fall in love with the mail system all over again.

Step 3: Get what you want out of life.

The cold hard truth is that life goes on regardless of where Jamie and I are in the world. I have to go on with my life and she has to go on with her. But we have the courage and a friendship based in a whole lot of trust (with a healthy dash of ridiculousness) that keeps us not only supportive of each other but each others biggest cheerleaders. But it's hard to get to that place. I know I use to have a lot of guilt about going out and doing cool things without her. I still do occasionally but I know if I told her I felt bad about going to Milan for the weekend or going for a hike in the alps she would call me out on that stupidity. And I would do the exact same thing to her.

Jamie is my home base in a lot of ways. And every single day I feel a little lost without her. I know that in Jamie I have a link the most sane and honest version of myself and our friendship keeps me accountable to never lose that. Being this far away is hard. But I know this whole living overseas working for the UN adventure can end one day. This could all explode at any given second and we'll have to go home. 

And I will come walking across her lawn and she will embrace me not because I had been away but because I came home.


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3 comments:

  1. I love this post. So much reminds me of missing my best friend when I was living in Switzerland. It's true; it's the really little things that you miss that often outweigh the big. A new pair of shoes, a new shampoo, what you had for your dinner ... everything can be critiqued and debated.

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  2. I've started responding to this post about three different times now, but I'm not really sure I have the right words to express how deeply moved I was reading it. I love that we still communicate every day (after three years of you being gone). I love and cherish our Skype dates, ridiculous (sometimes) one sentence emails, and random selfies. I love that I have this blog to read about your adventures, triumphs, and struggles (though, let's face it, I probably already know about them). I love hearing your voice. I love that I still squeal in delight when a parcel marked Switzerland shows up on my doorstep. I love that you send my kids weird books. I love that you will still drop everything to edit a piece of writing for me (because some days you are the other half of my brain). I love that my daughter has learned to communicate with you from afar. I love how honoured and dedicated you are to be the godmother of my babies. I love that your home is always opened to me should I visit (I've been there once and I will come again). I love how natural it is to be reunited with you... every. single. time. I love that you are having adventures and I love when you share them with me (just as I share mine with you). I love that you and your husband are comfortable enough to bicker and fight around me. I love that you and I have no boundaries. I love that you are one of the most reliable people in my life.

    There are things, of course, that I hate as well. I hate that you are so far away (especially when I'm having a bad day of epic proportions). I hate that I can't give you real hugs (the virtual kind just aren't squishy enough). I hate that I can't indulge in your food and "sippy" experiments (they always sound so good). I hate that you're not here for birthdays (especially the birthdays of your godchildren). I hate that you don't come home very often. I hate the time difference between us (but we make it work). But most of all, I hate not knowing if you're ever coming back.

    There is no substitute for you. There never, ever will be. Live your dreams. Make them big and fabulous. But never, ever forget that wherever I am, I am cheering for you. Always.

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  3. That's my fav. Pic of us btw.

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