There are many wonderful things about being an expat. The chance to live in another country and experience a different culture. The traveling. The food. Oh my god, THE FOOD.
So what isn't so great about being an expat? The goodbyes.
You see, many of us sign on as expats for just a few years. Contracts vary but the vast majority of expats spend two to five years in one place. Sure, there are a few people who are here longer, but many of us simply come for a quick and rather intense tour. Which means that people are constantly leaving and we are repeatedly being forced to say goodbye.
In the next few weeks, I am going to say goodbye to at least 15 people who have been my friends, my support, and my family over the last two and a half years. We've said farewell to others during this time, but this summer's exodus seems to sting the most. Part of it is the sheer number of people leaving. But it's also who is leaving this time around.
There's J, who was my first friend in Shanghai. We moved here within weeks of each other and together, we found the strength to step outside our comfort zones and explore the city. Her family became mine, her daughter like another niece to me. I'm having trouble imagining what Shanghai will be like without them.
L and A, a British couple who not only taught me some bloody good slang, but gifted me with a secret family recipe for Yorkshire Pudding. My thighs will never be the same.
The G family, whose adorable kids make me want to have my own while simultaneously explaining the necessity for a large wine collection.
And then there is L and R, friends who reached out to us through this blog, and who it felt like we had known for years. Their love of good food, stiff drinks, and Ghirardelli brownies made them some of our favorite dining companions.
We've all promised to visit, to keep in touch via Skype and email. And I hope we do. But life is busy and things will change. I know that. Yet I'll forever be bonded to these people. Years from now, I'm sure I will remember the way the Bund looked at night and the taste of xiaolongbao. But the clearest memories even now are the Sunday night dinners spent with friends, the glasses of wine we shared, and the constant laughter that has dominated my life here.
So goodbye my friends. Safe travels to your new homes and best of luck on your next adventures. But most of all, thank you for the memories.