January 28, 2017

Each friend represents a world in us

Over the years of being an expat I have made many friends. Sometimes we hit it off right away, other times it took months even years before we got to know each other better. Some friendships were made over kids' playdates, others through the working world. I made new friends at a dinner party or thanks to a photography course. I have made friends through projects I believe and work for. Neighbours have also become friends as have some friends of friends who contacted me for advice upon arriving at their new destination.

Don't get me wrong, I do pick and choose my friends but from the little girl back in Zürich whom for most of her single life had just a handful (extremely loyal) friends - and who believed you could not possibly have any more that you could call real friends - I have gone to calling upon friends across all four corners of the globe.

Expatriate life has its pros and cons. We expats always worry about our kids not having any roots and this is true. However, the upside of this lifestyle is that you really do become very close with people whom would never have crossed your path had you not started to move around.

Every Expatriation comes with its adventures - positive and negative - which you get to share with a whole new set of people each time. You enjoy the good times and support each other through the bad ones. The latter usually allows you to get very close very fast and before you know it you have made a new best friend, one that you can count on through thick and thin. Your family is thousands of miles aways and this new friend just "gets you" because she is in the same boat at the same time. No explanation needed, looks can say a thousand words.

You live through experiences together that bind you for life. Of course, this sounds like a bunch of clichés but when you have to give birth for the first time in a country a million miles away from yours, listing to the nurses not understanding a word they are saying, wondering how on earth you managed to put yourself in this situation and all of a sudden you see a foreign looking girl with the same look on her face, you smile and you've bonded for life.

Decades later when your children are grown up and instead of exchanging baby stories you talk about your path of life, your achievements, your projects and your beliefs once in a while you will come across a like-minded woman, sometimes bold, sometimes introverted but you can sense that strong conviction of having achieved what is important to her and you know you have found another companion to share your path with.

And for a little while we ride the same boat in the same direction until destiny pulls us apart. But as Anais Nin so nicely put it: "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

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