I've been thinking a lot about friendships recently, and was also prompted by two other bloggers to write about this subject. First, a post at The Potty Diaries about the difficulties of losing friends when you're an expat. And also, although she's not an expat, a post by Talk About York, in which she mentions a friendship ended because she moved from one part of the country to another.
I've also myself posted before about friends moving on, and, as a "Third Culture Kid", I've always known it is one of the hardest things about expat life. But now, I find myself in the position of being the friend who is about to move on. I'm aware that I have only seven months left here and I'm wondering how much I'll see of the friends I've made in America in future.
When I left England, although I knew I would miss my friends, I knew it wasn't forever. Although I was aware that many of them would also move away (out of London, in many cases), I felt sure that I would resume my social life and friendships at a later date, and in the meantime stay in touch with them via email, Facebook and Skype. And I have done, in the main. Whilst a few people have dropped off the radar, most of my previous close friendships are very much still in place.
When I moved to the US, I met a lot of people very quickly (although it was a good nine months before I became "friends" with anyone on Facebook or knew them well enough to phone up at a moment's notice, other than my lovely German friend, my soul mate in 'not-being-American'). Now, however, I have a strong network of friends in the town. I've met them through school and preschool, through book groups, online and offline mums groups, community organisations and just by virtue of being neighbours.
The other night I missed out on going to my monthly "International Moms" night out, which has been a great source of fun over the past year. There are fellow Brits as well as Europeans, Australians, Asians and a host of other nationalities with whom to quaff wine and swap stories about expat life and the experience of living in America as a non-American (both the postives and the negatives. It's not just bitching, I promise!) Although the reason was that I was too jet-lagged, and ready for bed at 8pm, perhaps there was also a part of me that wondered if it was really worth meeting anyone new or keeping up with vague acquaintances at this stage in the game.
But in a way, that seems lame. I don't want to withdraw from my social life just because I'm leaving. And I hate to think that people might start make less effort with our family because we are going - that would be terribly sad for the Littleboys and for me. I'd also like to think that there are several people here who will become lifelong friends, with whom I'll catch up in future either in London or out here. I certainly don't want to neglect those friendships.
However, at the same time, maybe it's time to start thinking about who really matters - both here and in England. Friends who are really there for me, and who I would be there for in return. In an age of hundreds of Facebook friends and contacts, it's sometimes easy to overlook.
It's a quandary, and I'd be interested to know how anyone else managed.