The year scuttles quickly to its close, scooping with it unintended victims that lie unknowingly in its path. I stand on the precipice of a new year, teetering uncertainly, vertiginous as I glare at the depth of the chasm before me. Just a trusting leap away, new ventures await, new pathways to be trod, new friendships to be made. Yet, I am loath to fold away the old-new friendships of two years, to origami them into an ideal as I wave farewell to those on their own journeys to different climes. Two families who played a pivotal role in our welcome, in establishing a community, stand ready to depart for the next step of their expat journey. Two women I have come to call sisters, will too soon be restarting lives a world away. I am bereft for myself, while simultaneously rejoicing for them.
They move back to the familiar, to family and home, to places and spaces that the body inhabits without conscious thought, to habit. There is, perhaps, a microscopic shard of envy lodged in the pit of my stomach as I think of their move. Not in my heart. No, not that. My heart, fickle and wandering, lusts for adventure, for learning, for discovering, for difference. My heart would be dissatisfied with a return to the old. But there is somewhere nebulous in me that yearns for a moment of familiar, for the thoughtless ease of repetitive acts.
And still. I tussle with my melancholy at the gradual release of these two sister-friends, these book-lovers, these food-enthusers, these adventure-partners. My heart aches for their own upcoming grit-your-teeth-and-forward-into-the-fray journeys as they slot back into friendships suspended, lives on hold. I travel with them in thought as they unpack their lives, store away their experiences, dust off their old connections in their familiar-unfamiliar houses. My stomach knots with theirs as they wave off children to yet another school, yet another education system, yet another group of friendships waiting to be made. I see the threads that connect us thickening with life now before they leave. The unconscious strengthening of those bindings happens before every move in an expat life. It is human, I suppose, to shore up those banks, make secure our tenuous tethers to each other before the inevitable fraying that occurs with distance, and time, and lives lived apart.
A bitter taste wells in my mouth now at the thought of the inescapability of this end. And yet. There is promise on the horizon too. A new friend made through internet connections has taken shape and form over Christmas. Her spectral existence has solidified into a generous new friend. A new adventure, a getting-to-know awaits just an arms-reach away.
It’s time to box up my melancholy, place it carefully in a dark corner of the attic, and open the windows to the potential in a new year.