I moved from Vietnam to Singapore 5 months ago, but sitting now at the departure hall of HCMC airport, it for the first time feels real and eternal. End of an era, end of the HCMC life. This was the third time back at my old Saigon home, this time to say bye to my closest friend in town who is about to move back to the States. Singapore and HCMC are “just around the corner” in expat-lifestyle terms, but Singapore – Washington DC is a different story.
Having lived in 7 countries, I’ve had my fair share of goodbyes. They are always bitter sweet, knowing that true friendships conquer any obstacles but the good old times will be just that – old times, the past, memories.
As an expat one has to develop an ability to make friends quickly, approach new people with an open heart and embrace and treasure every moment together. For an expat, life and its precious moments are always right here, right now. A best friend of today might move to the other side of the world tomorrow so there’s no time to lose.
It’s nothing sort of easy to open your heart time after time, to new people, knowing that the day of goodbyes is already being scheduled. It’s hard and it’s painful. But it’s worth it.
The best part of the expat life are these moments making new friends, sometimes even meeting soul-mates. People you would never have met had you stayed living in one place. Moments you would never have had without trusting your heart being strong enough to handle yet another goodbye. Expat friendships are fast, deep, and full of emotions. They are made of short experiences that make all the difference because they were shared. They are full of realizations of how small and how big the world is, and how soul mates can be waiting at the oddest corners of the world.
Goodbyes mean an end of something special. Goodbyes don’t end friendships but they change them. As with anything special, it’s painful to let go. But letting go is a natural effect of an expat life. Our journey is filled with hello’s and goodbyes, with the value of the hello’s out weighting the sadness of the goodbyes. Even with the most difficult goodbyes, the saddest moments, there’s always the gratitude and joy present in having had a chance to meet that person, to be part of their lives and share special moments together.
I let the tears come to my eyes for a moment, allow my heart to ache, but keep a smile on my face reminding me of the time we shared together. It’s only hard to let go of something unique, something special. I’ll treasure the great moments we had and look forward to a thrilling reunion someday, somewhere. I’ll keep the gratitude and love in my heart and in the memories. And I’ll keep my heart open, not letting the fear of a future goodbye limit the opportunities ahead. Expat life is a journey filled with big emotions, amazing adventures, memorable moments and special people. Even at the times of sadness and longing, it’s a life that makes me feel alive and happy.
Friend, I’m sad to see you go but I’m eternally happy to have met you.