Maur, Amy and me at a little place we like to refer to as Salty BallsI finally went home after 17 months away, and I must admit, I was slightly nervous. I had heard from other expats that your first time back was a culture shock so to speak. Nah, I disagree, but what I will tell you is that it does teach you a valuable lesson. I suppose the lesson is different depending on the person. My lesson was that sometimes I just have to learn to say goodbye.
I’ve always had a hard time saying goodbye. I’m usually the first one to move somewhere, but I’d like to think that I’m better than most about keeping in touch. However, through my many moves and changes in life, goodbye has become inevitable. The difference: I never recognized it. I would just let things fade out without a second thought.
The new bride Kelly, Jodi and me
I first arrived in NY, the place that although I wasn’t born, I still call home. Despite the depression based on the economic downturn, I felt as though things were pretty much the same – okay, give or take a wedding, two engagements, and a couple of pregnancies. Then I went down South and had some family time for Thanksgiving and of course, to see my favorite sport (American football) and my favorite team continue their undefeated season (Geaux Saints!!!).
Kelly and me getting geared for the Saints, WHO DAT!It was then that I realized that sometimes I just need to say goodbye. I have this friend that while I may know her since college in a very different way from most people, it was very evident that she and I are now on different paths. It doesn’t mean that the goodbye is permanent, but there comes a time in your life when you have to sit down and say to yourself, “Perhaps this person’s priorities are lining up on a different road and I need to stop trying to catch up to them via the street that clearly wasn’t meant for me.” It’s never easy to come to the realization that you’ve moved apart, but why linger? But to be fair, I knew this was coming I just didn’t want to say it. Instead I turned a blind eye to her past actions and continued being there even though she wasn’t. The sad part is, she probably doesn’t even realize that I’m gone.
There could’ve been a tear, but not really when I knew it all along. However, something else happened. While I feel like I’ve let one close friend go, I got back one back – our mothers refer to us as ‘partners in crime’ – after almost three years of hardly any communication. Truth be told, I dialed her phone number by mistake and from that point on, we talked all day every day up until I left. It came natural and it felt like no time had lapsed at all. The funniest part was although we hadn’t spoken in so long, we shared very similar stories of where our lives had gone and the relationships we’d run into along the way.
Through it all though, I was reminded of just how many people are supporting me. Egypt is not an easy place to live, but Elaine said, “If things really get so terrible, we as expats always have an out: home. However, when things are really terrible at home, we have no out.” Therefore, life as an expat can’t be that bad because many of us never go home, at least not until we’re good and ready.