Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Au Revoir

Those of you who read expat blogs are probably sick of the chorus of goodbye blogs. Reading about people who live in cool locales bitch about leaving friends behind probably seems a little ungrateful. I get that.

But it doesn’t make the suckiest part of the gig any less sucky. I hate saying goodbye to people I’ve grown to love and call friends. Folks with whom I’ve shared a bottle of Pledge Egyptian wine, or melted with during a walk along the corniche.

The cruel Catch-22 of expat life is that you have to make friends to feel at home and fit in. You welcome strangers into your home and by the end of the night you realize how much you have in common with your fellow travelers. You attend faculty “dos” and leave with phone numbers and promises of future shopping trips with fabulous people who know the ins and outs of Cairo better than the locals. Occasionally you are even lucky enough to have neighbours that turn into best friends and the sister you never had.

And then one of you leaves.

It’s amazing how easily I forget this part of the job. ‘Cause it really, really bites. Over the next month I will be saying goodbye to several friends, all of whom have proved to be fabulously cool.

They’re all incredibly excited about going home and have started counting down the days and hours until their flights take off. They’ve started selling off those items they don’t need to take back to the Real World and pack up those items that do. I understand: I’ve done it numerous times myself. But it doesn’t make it any less suck-tastic.

Going away parties have become the new happy hour in Cairo as more and more people say their final goodbyes. Well, I refuse to say goodbye! I’m drawing my line in the sand and saying that goodbyes are a thing of the past. Instead, I will opt for “see you soon,” “until our next Scrabble game,” or a simple and plaintive “don’t go!!!”

Saying goodbye sucks like no other part of this expatriate life. The monthly bouts of ghiardia, the ridiculous oven-like heat, and complete and utter lack of even semi-decent pizza are all things you can get used to. Watching friends head off to the airport for the last time isn’t.

See you soon guys!

29 comments:

Roxane said...

I cant lie I hate goodbyes of all kinds :(

Jennifer said...

Are you leaving or is someone else leaving? Either way, I agree with you: good-byes are crap.

Bluefish said...

I'll be having my see you later party instead of a good by party. I know I'll be back in Canada but it's only a matter of time.

illahee said...

i agree, it sucks. in my case, though, it seems as though everyone leaves me and i'm stuck here....

Brenda said...

I know exactly what you mean! Saying goodbye is the hardest part of expat life. But knowing some of those wonderful people makes it all worth while.

the ungourmet said...

Thank God for the internet. It's so much easier to keep in touch with far away friends.

Protege said...

I am so with you on this one.
I have also moved all over the world and I hate saying bye not just to my family, but also friends. It is always worst for those who are the ones staying behind.

LadyFi said...

With the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networks, it really isn't good-bye...

but it still sucks when they are not there to help you through REAL life.

Joan said...

This has been a tough thing for us too, and especially this year, and especially for my kids. Five or six kids from my son's kindergarten class are moving away this summer, and we're worried some of our best friends here might end up leaving as well (they don't know yet). Ugh, it sucks.

American in Norway said...

Sorry... I feel your pain. Hang in there your time to go home will come.... : ) Hugs

kaddee said...

It doesn't seem to matter if you are the leaver or leavee - it still blows.

I hate good bye - so I'm going with a bientot!

Besides, the expat friends I've made will give me myriad vacation options with free lodging!!

The Blonde Duck said...

Goodbye is never fun.

Christie-A Work In Progress said...

Aw! I can imagine how hard it is! Kind of like saying goodbye from camp or college but as an adult, there is so much more meaning and feeling with it, eh? Chin up, dear! Stopping by from SITS though I have been here before :) Glad I stopped by again!

Reviewer11 said...

Stopping by to say hi from a new SITsa (I think that's how you say it)

Have a wonderful day. :D

Jacki said...

I totally understand. It was hard growing up and always having to say goodbye to friends. It's never easy.

But the good thing is that the internet makes it so much easier to keep in touch!

Hugs...

Connie said...

We extended our tour and have stayed here long enough that if we wait any longer, we'll have to trade in our passports for National ID's :) .. but it's our turn to leave now, and you are right... it sucks. We are excited to be moving on to a new adventure, but we're also leaving 'home' and lots of good friends - it's very hard! Thank goodness for the internet!!

Lydia said...

Yes, thank goodness for facebook, blogs, etc. I always say "see you later" because it is such a small world!

Miss Footloose said...

This goodbye issue is the greatest negative of my wandering expat life. I have good friends in all corners of the world, but now that I am in the US I have nobody in the neighborhood to go have coffee with!

I keep fantasizing about starting a community in a sunny happy country where all of my friends will come and live once they quit the traveling life!

Miss Footloose, sometimes wishing for roots somewhere.

www.lifeintheexpatlane.blogspot.com

Jemma Ruby said...

the more you do these international moves the smaller the world actually seems and after awhile it is like they are moving to another state.(Got to see the positives!!) I have luckily always been able to keep in touch with the firends I made evrywhere- I just thank my stars for facebook, email, and affordable phone- when I first moved to europe in the early 90's my family had ridiculous phone bills of 1000 USD a month!! Hang in there!

Little P said...

Awww, goodbyes suck... And I'm in a similar spot where my friends always move away! :(
I also find it interesting, as you mention in this posting, that they are returning to the 'real world.' I get a bit frustrated when people view any sort of living outside the US as,- well, a vacation and not that you are working, studying - LIVING abroad. I know that most people who go abroad do it as a short term thing for a few years, but I don't like the idea that they view it so much as a 'break' from 'real' life. ...that means that they probably are not letting themselves into the culture of the country they are in and that they are not allowing for themselves to see their place inside that culture. Yes, you are a foreigner and will always be one (even if you get citizenship), but that doesn't mean that you can't feel like it's your home or make it your home...
Sorry, but I work around people who go abroad for set periods of time and read a bunch of stuff about all this... :)

Kat said...

Do you ever end up in the same places again? And how long will you guys be in Cairo before you go somewhere else?

Jennifer Juniper said...

Goodbyes are hard, it's true. But the experiences make it worthwhile.
Hello from sits :)

Christina Lee said...

ugghhh I hear you -goodbyes of any kind are really tough and force you to re-examine life the way it was- but soon a new chapter is right around the corner!

NicoleB said...

Yuck :(
That sucks :(

I never had it that way since we never really had a good Expat community. Neither in Korea nor Kuwait.
Kuwait got close. But no cigar.
Hungary starts to get more interesting lately, but I doubt we can ever call it community and such.

Sorry do many people go, but it's the end of school year thing I guess.

Just look forward to Monday and to your trip ;)

Hugs!

Gaston Studio said...

Goodbyes totally suck. I considered myself really lucky to have made life long friends with a couple of people I met while living in Bahrain and Egypt.

DiPaola Momma said...

Oh and the.."we'll stay in touch" you always give with sincerity but secretly know it isn't likely. I think about all the friends I miss and I don't miss my Expat days quite as much. Though living in the DC area it's pretty much the same story.. I'm going to get my scrapbook, some vino and a box of kleenex.. THANKS YOU MEANIE!

Debbie said...

After our few years in the military, I learned how hard goodbyes are. I feel for you.

Vanessa Rogers said...

I agree, it is a really hard part of the expat life. You meet interesting people and then say goodbye.

Corinne said...

I try not to say good-bye, as well. This world is just too dang small, you never know when you're going to see someone again. After six years globe-trotting in the military, I know exactly what it's like to say farewells to good friends, and then in turn have to leave. It does suck, but some of those friendships, it's amazing how well they stick.