18 April 2016

Friendship and being an expat

I've been thinking on this post for a long time. Lingering in my draft posts, it's a topic that adults don't often seem to discuss, but, as an expat with home always in our thoughts, the subject of friends and family always raises its head.

Specifically, having moved to a new hemisphere as an adult, sometimes the process of making new friends has felt like it's as tumultuous as dating. There’s an inherent chemistry in any relationship that somehow connects you to one person more than another. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it isn't even when you want it to be.


One of the most elusive aspects of life as an expat has had been making a decent network of those 'call at 2am because I've broken something/am really drunk and just want to chat/ripped a button off my dress/call at 7am because there is a tube strike on and I need advice/indulge in my brunch addiction' friends. 

Is it a soul-deep level of syncopation? Is it shared history and experiences? Is it an age thing? Is it a shared passion for ninja kitten Pinterest boards? United defences against a common "frenemy" (that feels so Mean Girls)? Is it a common nutty streak that has you howling with laughter at imagined scenarios? Is it a similar level of emotional neediness? Is it a comfort with answering a barrage of disparate questions? It is something that you simply can’t put a reason to? Is it proximity?


(I'm not crazy, just have a fascination for psychology - the side of architecture that interests me the most is not how was it built but why - and I'm also reading a book about introverts recommended to me by several friends...ironically whilst we were gathered around a big brunch table!) 

It is rather taboo to speak about it – as long as your Facebook friend count is in triple digits you’re considered socially acceptable in some bizarre way, even though you may not even prod someone on there from one decade to the next, let alone thrown a sheep at them. I mean as an adult, how do you even define what friendship is? Is it someone you spam with cat photos occasionally, someone who messages you everyday, someone who knows you're always up for crazy stuff or someone who only calls you when they need solace?


As an expat there’s even another level to this emotional connection – friends become family. You nag some about joining a local GP, you hungover mass text others, occasionally you might accidentally stalk a few via all the social medias and sometimes you write heart-felt blog posts that overthink something that you hadn't ever considered as a conscious thought.

In a big city it’s even harder – combine dizzying work schedules with complicated cross-city commutes, and just how do you divvy out those precious hours of repast? At times there are hilarious levels of organisation - rivers of meandering instant message conversations, polls to corral a date, last minute emails to discuss details, then occasionally frenzied texts messages to reschedule rendezvous points in a different section of town. Other times it's as simple as "Drink tonight?" "Sure, see you at xxx?"

And this is all without adding the element of a different language to the mix like braver expats than I! Maybe it's just as simple as Isobel @ Sunny Side Of This says - maybe your 'vibe attracts your tribe'.


What do you think?

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