Sunday, March 7, 2010

Letters from Egypt:Departing Ways

Ashish's goodbye gathering
Throughout your life, you will face a constant changing of friends and social circles; however, as an expat, that rotation happens more frequently. And it never gets easier.

My blog allows me to do a lot: vent my many frustrations, inform others about life here who are thinking of moving, keeping family/friends at home updated on my life, and perhaps one of the most important things is that it introduced me to a couple of people that I would never have met otherwise.

I met Andy a few days after he arrived in Cairo. Originally from Chicago, Ill., he had ventured to the sand pit for his career. I also met his long-time girlfriend, who is now his fiancé, Julie. Andy gave me a shoulder to cry on (and trust me, there were many times that shoulder definitely came in handy), and he always kept the jokes coming even when sometimes it was difficult to laugh. Andy kept me level-headed and wasn’t afraid to put me back in my place should I step out of line (shocking, I know). And even now, I still talk to Andy and Julie – although Andy left Cairo in November. Their wedding is in October, and while it is unlikely that I can attend, I know I’ll see them eventually (perhaps when I’m living in the apartment above their garage in my old age with my brand new hip).

And while I can go on and on boring everyone senseless about what they did for me, I have to spend some time on my friend Ashish. Originally from India, Ashish and I had a common bond: New York. He lived there for nearly four years after finishing his degree in Massachusetts. I corresponded with him shortly before his arrival to Egypt, giving him the do’s and don’ts, what to bring, etc. That first dinner was filled with our NY stories, past relationships, roommates gone wrong (as potential roommates in NY should come with a warning label), etc. Ashish has just left for Cancun, Mexico and I have to say, while I was in the US when Andy departed, it was sad being present for yet another friend leaving.

While I’m being prepped with Andy and Ashish’s departure, one of my closest friends will surely leave relatively soon. That’s the frightening part. You take the time to get to know someone and then you’re separated and no matter what, you know that things will change. You’re not as able to keep in touch as you did when you lived in the same city talking about all those little things on the phone that at the time seem insignificant. My friend Lisa says to me often, “After you leave, I’m done. I’m done with trying to get to know people only for them to leave.”

I think about all the friends I’ve lost along the way whether it be a result of distance or personality conflicts/changes, and it’s always hard. You always wish you could basket all of the people you love and take them where ever you go, but that just isn’t possible.

I look at all the people I’ve met here: some good, some bad, and let’s not forget the downright UGLY! If there’s one thing that can be said about life as an expat is yes, your circle of friends constantly changes, but it just means that no matter where you travel in the world, you’ll always have someone in that perspective city. However, even saying that aloud doesn’t mean that it gets any easier.


  1. Leanne, i know how hard it is for you to really open up and get to know the inside of people. It is true, however, it's better you met and enjoyed these wondrful people than not.
    i'm sure you will stay in touch and meet up in another place! you have a knack for that sort of thing!