I think when you move to a new place, the most important thing to find is one or two or three good friends as quickly as possible. I’ve learned this from experience over the years, not really knowing that this is what made me truly enjoy each new journey, but now that I reflect on it, this is my new little knowledge nugget.
I’ve also learned that friends serve a purpose and even though we move from place to place, the best of friends easily pick up where they left off the next time they come together. Some friendships naturally serve a limited purpose and the relationships turn into memories without the continuous connection, once the shared time together is gone. That’s natural and ok too.
It took me awhile, but I also learned that it’s possible to have more than one best friend. Even though literally, best is the superlative implying that there is only one, I think I can have more than one, and I’m sticking to it.
If I look back on my life as chapters, I have some friends that have been with me from the beginning, some that have left for good, a few that are Facebook and email connection friends, some that I see once in awhile, and some who I cry with joy when I see them again. And of course there is always the current chapter, filled with friends that help me enjoy my current, day to day life, both here and back home.
There is one friend, Megan, who I guess you could call an expat, although I didn’t call her that. She was just my new friend. She and her husband and four children moved to my neighborhood for a one year sabbatical at Stanford, from Michigan. Her kids went to the same school as mine and I almost ran her over one day. Not literally, but at least I noticed her and introduced myself to her the next time I saw her at school. We laughed and shared stories and connections, and before you knew it, our family and hers and April’s were best friends. We created a strong bond through shared experiences and margaritas, admiration and friendship in that one year, and then she moved back home to Michigan. I never thought I didn’t want to be friends with her, even though I knew she would be moving back. We just enjoyed all the days we could. In a way, I think she prepared me to become an expat too, because she lived life to the fullest while she was on her journey away from her normal routine, and she inspired me.
Before I moved overseas, Megan gave me a pep talk about our upcoming move, and told me how it would bring my family closer together and to make the most of it. She also wished for me that I would meet someone like me in my new town, that would welcome me and make me feel a part of my new community, sharing all that was good about being in my new place, like I did for her. I secretly prayed for the same thing, knowing that sometimes it comes down to luck, and timing and chemistry.
Well her wish and my prayers have come true. I am lucky and blessed. I have made many new friends here in Holland that fill my life with joy. We meet for drinks and meals, study Dutch, visit new places, exercise, shop, share stories and raise our kids together. Who knew that you could make friends where ever you go and that your capacity for friends is never full? I love my friends, both old and new and am so thankful for all of you.