Friday, 29 August 2014

Saying goodbye

As an expat, saying "Goodbye" is part of my every day life. Sadly it doesn't get any easier, and I'm not really good at it.

The first few years of my "Irish life", I had to say "Goodbye" a lot. If you're a foreigner in this country, you will understand straight away. The first parties I went to were "Leaving parties". The first people I met, the first friends I made, all left one after the other. Most of them were foreigners like myself. At the beginning it didn't matter too much. I was there for the experience, I wanted to meet as many people as possible and to be honest, getting to know people from all over the world and discovering new cultures was (and still is) very rewarding. I kept in touch with some friends, and forgot a lot of them as well. Saying "Goodbye" was part of the deal really, and I got used to it. 

I got so used to it that I started to feel more and more detached and I didn't want to work that hard at maintaining a friendship. After all, everybody was going to leave so was there even a point? After about 3 years in Ireland, I realised I was here to stay so I decided to stop getting involved too much with other expats. We had Irish friends anyway, and that's what mattered to me. At least they were going to stay and it was easier to build a more sustainable friendship with locals. Don't get me wrong, I still have foreign friends, but they are long term expats like me. And I know they're here to stay, at least for a while. I have very good friends who lived in Ireland for a few years but went back home and it truly broke my heart to see them go. Saying "Goodbye" to them was hard. Very hard. But life goes on, right? They are still my friends, just like the ones from my home town. We don't see each other often, but when we do, it's like they never left. 

Saying "goodbye" after a holiday home is a bit different. I usually try to make it as quick as possible, like a plaster you pull out in one go, so it doesn't hurt too much. I remember the first time Fabrice went home to Mauritius after 3 years in Ireland. The last evening we spent with his family was so emotional I cried as well (even though I only knew them for 3 weeks...). There was even more crying at the airport. Every time we go there, there's a tears fest when we leave. I know it's because they only see each other every 2 or 3 years. I go home at least once a year, sometimes twice. My sister and my mum come to visit as well so we're not separated for too long. 

But it doesn't make things easier. I'm crap at saying goodbye, even to my best friends. I don't know what to say, except stupid ready-made futilities: "Sure, I'll be back next year", "We keep in touch", "Let me know how you get on", "I'll be grand!", "See you next time"... 
Even when someone leaves at work, and I have to sign a card, I'm so not inspired (which is ironic for someone who writes regularly...).

Today, it was one my colleagues last day. He's going back to his home country after 7 years. And all I could write was : " Best of luck for the future". Lame.