The hardest part about living overseas is the need to say goodbye. There is of course the goodbyes that I had to say to my family, friends, and cats in the States when I chose to move to the UAE. Then I repeat those goodbyes every August when my summer holiday is over. It is hard. Almost soul crushing. But, the thing that gets me through is knowing that I will see all of them again in about nine months.
Then there is the flip side of this. Something that I didn’t really take into account when moving overseas. It is the goodbyes that you say to your friends that you have made while living abroad. Not the ‘see you after summer goodbyes’ but the ‘you are leaving the UAE for good and I may never ever see you again goodbyes’. This one hurts.
These are the friends that you made because they made the same life-altering decision as you did. These are the people who shared the same crazy and confusing first year with you while all of you adjusted to your new lives. These are the people that you turned to for advice, help, and companionship. The people that you spend Thanksgiving with because you can’t be with your own family. The people you convince to have game nights even if they aren’t as keen on this as you are. The people that drink and dance at Pacos with you even when you are acting like an idiot. The people that invite you over to watch horror movies even if you both say you that hate horror movies. The people that you can sit for hours in the office with and gossip, commiserate, and laugh. The people that you turn to for a shoulder to cry on. These are the friends that have become family. But unlike with the friends and family that you left behind in your hometown, you don’t get to cling to the knowledge that you will see them again the next summer. These goodbyes feel permanent. Oh sure, you will keep in touch by email or whatsapp, but will you ever get to see them again? How long before those friendships fade away and are remembered merely as a friendship of circumstance?
Sure, this is part of life as an expat. At least this is what everyone says. They promise that it will get easier. Does it? Should it? Why should it get easier to lose the friends that have become your family? I refuse to put on a fake smile and pretend that I don’t miss my friends just because we are expats. So, to all my friends that left last year and this year, I miss you. Al Ain is not the same without you in it. ❤