Too Long and Too Far: Missing My Tribe

expat issues 4 Replies

I got hit with a little melancholy late today for no discernible reason. It was one of those side swipes of sadness that makes you stop to think, “What’s this … whence come you, surprise sadness?” I suspect one part sleep deprivation from my toddler’s 4:30a.m. wake up call, one part catching up on the last few episodes of Parks and Recreation before this week’s series finale, and probably one part because my bestie-soulmate and I were particularly witty and hilarious on our spontaneous chat this morning. Homesickness doesn’t visit me terribly often these days, after five years in Australia, but I had a flood of fond thoughts for all of my friends from home, and wishes that I wasn’t so dreadful at keeping in touch. There’s a collection of dear hearts, maybe 15 or so, spread across the country – actually, the world – who have been with me for one or two decades now, and whose imprint is branded on my person. I count myself fortunate to have such a number of these friends, a testament, I think, to my preference for having just a few very close friends, rather than many casual acquaintances, my extreme finickiness at who I let into my life, the tenacity of many of my dear ones, and a serving of pure luck.

Five years away from home, this is what I want to tell the precious people I left behind (or who left me behind first!).

Absence does make the heart grow fonder, or at very least remain equally as fond. I wish I could collect all of you into a little village and have spontaneous pop-bys for long afternoon coffees or lingering beers on porch at night. I don’t know how it happened, but I think I have enough hindsight to say that I’ve chosen my tribe and my tribe has chosen me exceptionally well.

I miss you more today than I did in the throes of early homesickness. It is inconceivable to me when I think how much life has gone on. I can hardly fathom that I have dear friends with spouses and children who I have never met, or who I have never seen the inside of their homes and can’t picture where they type their emails from. I don’t exactly know what some of their jobs are. I can’t believe that there are people so dear to me who have never met my little Hushpuppy, that extension of my person. Yet, I know that we’ll pick up right where we left off the moment I lay eyes on any of you, which I hope happens sooner rather than later.

I’m sorry for being terrible or, at best, mediocre at keeping in touch. No, I really seriously, seriously am. And, I know you are, too. We’ll all do better! No hard feelings if we don’t, though, because we’re too old and secure for that nonsense. And, that’s why you’re my people. But, seriously, let’s do better.

My life is really not that interesting. Yup, I live far away, and have been lucky enough to see some cool things (as have you, though maybe different ones). And, yup again, I have made some wonderful new friends who have proven that there’s an infinite amount of room in there for the people who touch your heart. And, most days, the adventure is all about breakfast, gym, park, grocery store, getting dinner on the table, cleaning the house (again…), falling into bed. Hey, it’s no wonder we’re not so good at keeping in touch – that is so boring!

Technology is everything. I am so excited when my friends are happy to use Skype or when we figure out Facetime together. Yay, Facebook messenger! Let’s talk about important things and absolute nonsense. I love every single picture and update that you put on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Keep ’em coming – I’m totally stalking you.

It’s not the fear of missing out that haunts me, it’s the fear of being forgotten. I’ll bet most of my expat friends feel the same way sometimes. We all get busy. The house needs to be cleaned again, and dinner – am I right?. We get older. All of our memories become more distant. And I live in that far off land with upside down time zones and seasons. Drop a note when I cross your mind, and I promise I will do the same. I beg you to send me an invitation to your wedding. I know I probably won’t be able to come, but that thing is going to have a treasured spot on my fridge for at least a year and I’m going to think about you and how ecstatic I am for your happiness every time I see it. I want to be there with you for your special moments, even if “there” is physically still here.

I still don’t know why I can’t collect everyone in that little village, and maybe I’ll always have spontaneous bursts of sadness about that fact. My dear ones are, indeed, scattered to the corners of the earth, all of them embarking on their individual journeys of adventure, experience, love, and just doing the thing of living life. After all this time, I still miss all my dear friends like a piece of myself, but the thing I’d want them all to know most is that I am enamored with their happiness, proud of their accomplishments, and celebrate the people that we are all continuing to grow into.

4 thoughts on “Too Long and Too Far: Missing My Tribe

  1. Cosette

    This hits me hard. Yesterday I saw a photo of my nephew after a new haircut. His round face is gone and he looks so grown up. My sister tells me he is tall and his voice is deep. I am missing years in his life and the lives of my other family and friends. It’s really hard sometimes.

    1. Cristin Post author

      In some ways, it gets harder being away from family and friends the more time goes by and you have these realizations about how much of each others lives you are missing. It’s tough, no way around it.

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