One of the best and worst things about living overseas is that you find out who your real friends are pretty quickly. I’ve always found that to be interesting. And with the Festive Season now upon us it seems like an appropriate time for some love sharing and thoughts on the friends in my life. 

I suppose even though I have moved on to several different countries and cities across the years since I left the UK in 2006, somehow my friends have always remained the same in my mind. I may not speak to some of them much, or even really maintain much contact at all, but when I have the opportunity I have always tried to make time to arrange drinks to catch up with them all. These occasions may not have been as frequent as I would have liked, but only those who live a similar life to me will really understand the constraints on your time when you are making a trip to your home country. It’s never a holiday, there are always so many people to try to see and things that need to be done – It’s not that I don’t want to see everyone, it’s just that it’s really not possible in the short space of time that is usually available. Even though there are numerous people that I still consider an important part of my life and I don’t manage to see them – in my mind that is how they still remain – important to me.

One of the things I love about Facebook is that it helps you keep a connection with these friends. It helps you keep up to date with what they are up to, to comment on any posts they make about their daily lives and wish them birthday and seasons greetings and so on. I suppose that it’s through this connection that helps things to stay exactly as they always were in my mind.
But Facebook has its failings. Facebook is like a silent assassin that creeps up on you when you least expect it and stabs you right where it hurts… It’s not a good sensation to find out about yet another hen weekend or wedding or other significant life event that you have not been told about or invited to. It can be hurtful to find out about this stuff through Facebook – the sudden realisation that no matter what this person means to you, the feeling is no longer mutual and you suddenly find yourself at the bottom of the list of people they share their news with. If it wasn’t for this constant stream of information – if Facebook didn’t exist, we would have just naturally drifted apart for me never to hear about or see photos from these landmark occasions, I would just be blissfully ignorant which would be infinitely kinder.
I could just ‘unfriend’ these people I suppose. It would be easy enough to do so, for me to acknowledge that times have changed and they’ve moved on, to forget about them altogether.  Well, how easy indeed it would be to click ‘unfriend’, but somehow I just can’t bring myself to do it… I may no longer be an important part of their life, but the memories survive from days gone by and remain important to me.

Then there’s also those friends that don’t understand your lifestyle and don’t invite you to events because they just assume you won’t come. This makes me sad as they won’t know if they don’t ask. Just because I live thousands of miles away doesn’t mean these things are any less important to me. Of course, sadly I have missed more than my fair share of gatherings, weddings and funerals of friends and family close to me, but given the opportunity, I will always do my best to attend when I can. In fact, I think these events become even more important to you when you are far away from loved ones. It is a strange world we expats live in where we get on long haul planes like they are local buses – partly because we need to in order to visit family and close friends, and partly because of one of the luxuries our lives as expats allows us is to visit (near and) far flung locations more frequently than most. It’s one of those things that’s hard for people who don’t live in the same way to understand and appreciate I suppose.

Thankfully, there are still the friends that you can always rely on, and that you know will always be there for you, and who have proven this to be the case in times of need. No matter where you are in the world or how far apart you are, there are the people that have made an impact on your life. You may not see them or speak to them frequently, or even keep in touch much at all, but somehow, they still hold a special place in your heart. Those friends that you don’t speak to for months, then as soon as you do it’s as though you had never been apart at all! Friends come and go across the years, acquaintances pass through and may disappear as quickly as they appeared, but there are some people, those special ones who stay with you forever wherever you are, whatever you’re doing and you can be always be certain that the feeling is mutual.

Merry Christmas everyone!