I really envy people who make friends effortlessly - every time I meet someone new, I get butterflies in my stomach. So, for me, one of the most daunting aspects of moving every few years is finding a new set of friends that I'm comfortable with. By their very nature, expat circles tend to be very fluid. The people you meet will share your life for at the most a couple of years, and then its time to move on. Not a very ideal situation in which to make lasting friendships. Conversely, it is incredibly easy to make friends - most expats are eager to meet new people, and to help them get settled. In this changing milieu, you sometimes do form relationships that stay with you no matter where you go."Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends" - W.B. Yeats
I was very lucky in France - we were assigned a mentor family, the Rs - the most amazing, wonderful family I've ever known! They helped us in every possible way - introducing us to other Cat expat families, translating for me at Manasi's daycare, taking me shopping for antiques and groceries, and on one occasion, sitting up with me for a whole night when Manasi was sick. They became our family in France, and to this day, after so many years, they remain one of our closest friends!!
India, of course, was my home turf! I tried to pay forward what the Rs had done for us in France, and hopefully, I did manage to help a couple of people in small ways. As everything else in India, our expat friends were a rich blend of culture and nationalities! I had my Cat American families - a much smaller group than in Grenoble, but just as well-knit! Then all the Indian expat families - especially the Ks and Ss - what a privilege to have known these wonderful ladies! My French friends - who were so happy that I had lived in their beautiful country and had loved it! And of course, our dear neighbors, the Ks, who will always hold a special place in my heart!
Back in Peoria, it was like we had never left! We had returned after almost 7 years - turned out to be for a really short time, just a year - but what a year we had, thanks to all our friends! We picked up right where we had left off, and what a great feeling that is! This time around, our kids became friends too, making things more special! So much laughter, so much fun!!
When we moved to China, I was again struck by how lucky we were to meet so many different people. I have been immediately welcomed into a group of really warm Indian ladies, and I'm already in the middle of a social whirl with them. Our neighbors, once again, for lack of better words - are very neighborly! The few Cat expats I've met so far, have all been very helpful! So many new people, so many friendships waiting to happen!! And, as Ajey wryly commented, so many more Facebook contacts to be added!
Just the other day, an old friend of mine from college came over for dinner. I must say I was a bit surprised when he called, we hadn't been in touch for years! That got me thinking of all my older friends - not 'old' older, most of these friends are as
And when speaking of friends, how can I not mention my 2 awesome gal-pals? 2 decades of friendship, and still going strong! These are women who have seen me at my worst, and still love me - they have seen the best in me, and helped me see it too. They remain my confidantes, my staunchest supporters, my true 4am friends. I can only hope that I have been as much a friend to them, as they have been to me!
As I forge ahead with my new friends, my old friends remain with me always - just a phone call or email away! What's that old saying - Make new friends, but keep the old. For new is silver, but old is gold! Truer words were never said!