Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Expat Talk: When Friends Leave
You know those people who come into your lives who you instantly connect with? The ones you feel like you've known for 10 years, instead of 2 minutes? That's how I feel about my friend Erin, a (former) fellow American in London, who reached out to me via this blog.
When we sat down to dinner at Ottolenghi for the first time over two years ago, I was worried it'd be awkward: I'd never met a reader before, and what if I didn't match up to my blog persona? Within minutes, we'd found out that:
- we're both from the West Coast (Erin's from California and I'm from Washington)
- she shares the same birthday as my mom and my father-in-law
- we share the same age gap with our siblings
- we're both married to Brits
- we're enthusiastic foodies and have similar taste in style
I mean, our similarities gave me goosebumps! Over sharing plates of grilled asparagus and okra, followed by ice cream at Udderlicious next door, we talked excitedly about our other interests: "Do you like this? What do you think about that?" Our friendship was meant to be.
So, when Erin texted me a few months ago to say, "I have some really exciting news!", and told me about her new job offer in L.A., I was so, so happy for her. I couldn't think of a more deserving, better person for the role and I knew that she and her husband had always planned to settle in the States at some point.
Then I felt sad, because I didn't want her to leave; she's one of my tribe.
But it's not the first time I've made American friends here who have moved back to the States: there was Suzy, whose baby girl I held for the first time on a snowy day in Putney (who's now a big sister, twice over), and Ruth, who also worked in publishing.
I was sad when they both left, not only because they were great friends (and we still keep in touch), but also because they understood that part of me that often gets neglected here: that expat, American, sometimes-homesick, always-a-little-too-enthusiastic-about-everything part.
And I miss them.
Friends are a funny thing: we often take each other for granted. But it's not until their absence becomes a reality that it's really felt.