Living abroad has had it’s ups and down, obviously, but one of the main adjustments I’ve had to deal with is acquiring an undefined number of transient friendships. People come. People go. Some will stay in your life, your heart and your Facebook forever while some will pop up in your newsfeed a year later and you’ll struggle to remember how you know them.
Was it that trip to Jeju Island last summer?
Or wait, was it that Temple Stay further south?
Oh no, no, I got it.You’re a friend of a friend and we met at the pub quiz. That’s it!
‘I’ll friend you on Facebook’ has become the traveller’s ‘Of course we’ll keep in touch, why wouldn’t we? You’re awesome’ and a way to prolong a friendship that before would have just been a distant memory or perhaps a face in a photograph.
A transient friend of mine once told me, ‘I’m not going to say goodbye to you because in this job, the person you say goodbye to will be the person you’ll run into waiting at the bus stop tomorrow’ and she was right. Less than 12 hours later, I saw the girl again. Although not at a bus stop. In the office. I’d popped in to pick up something right before I left and she was in there talking to the management.
Here in Korea everyone is on a one year contract so every month there is a new turnover of bewildered people arriving, jaded people leaving. Craigslist is full of people having moving sales in a bid to rid themselves of all the baggage their living abroad lifestyle has brought them.
I’ll be the last of my original, first-year-here group of close girl friends to leave, which means I will have had to say goodbye to everyone. Well, sort of….Technically, I was the first to leave…but then I came back.
I had five (yes, FIVE) leaving parties. I said goodbye to everyone. I hugged everyone. I sold my things. I was convinced I’d never return. The Canadian One’s British Friend maintained he was not saying goodbye to me as I would be back within the year. My bid to prove him wrong failed and within 6 months I had run out of money and returned to The Land of the Morning Calm.
This past weekend, I’ve had to say goodbye to Pomegranate (swear to God, she picked her own blog code name). Pomegranate and I met on her second day in the country, having previously corresponded via email.
For almost 8 months, we were each other’s best friends, which follows the while-abroad custom of finding a home-away-from-home-best-friend. We drank (too much). We laughed (until she cried). We stayed out waaaaaay past our bedtimes. We played drunken pool. We met boys. I met The Canadian One. She had to listen to me talk about The Canadian One endlessly when we first started dating. In an odd twist of fate, we both left Cheonan on the same day, me because my contract was up, her because her school unexpectedly closed down and while I moved an hour north, she moved an hour south. I moved in with The Canadian One, she fostered some dogs. We both started and completed our new contracts at work.
And today, she will leave Korea and I will stay for nine more months.
Which begs the question, when I leave next year, will I have a leaving party?
Will I be as sad as I was at my first leaving party?
Because now I know better. Now, I know a ‘goodbye’ is never a ‘goodbye forever’ but a ‘see you later’. It’s a comforting thought in a world of transient friendships to know you may one day sip blue cocktails and giggle about boys one more time together.
And hey, if it is a goodbye, there’s always Facebook, right?! Hey, I’ll friend you.