I promise this wil not become a sentimental post, but there are some things I want to say. Because I have said goodbye in my life more than I wish to remember.
When leaving China and the UK, saying goodbye was kind of self-evident, I only went for a short period of time, an extended holiday so you will. In both instances my fellow students left the country at the same time so it was only normal we part ways. And hurray for Facebook, where I can to this day still see what they are up to but do not need to email them weekly to ask. Funnily enough, I made good Belgian friends in both countries. Like I said, I was there for a limited time.
When leaving Belgium, time and again, I never truly say goodbye to anyone, Belgium is my base and I will always return. No guarantees on the regularity of those visits but hey, with everyone’s schedule these days I sometimes see my old schoolfriends at the same intervals that they see each other.
But then we left Tanzania. A whole different ball game all together after 16 years. The person leaving was quite clearly not the same person that arrived in 2002. I had spent close to half of my life there. My kids had spent almost their whole life there. And the majority of the people I said goodbye to, I know I won’t ever see again. And some of the important people in those 16 years had left already anyway. Yes, in an expat life one does become more used to saying goodbye than one cares for. But this time it was me leaving. I know that some people expected a big farewell. I decided not to do one, not a big one anyway. I probably didn’t make myself very popular with that decision. First and foremost, I hate goodbyes, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it – let alone to stretch out the experience with a big audience and a sauce of alcohol on top of it. Then, let us not forget I did a farewell party in 2008 and had returned. So how often can I do that without losing credibility all together.. Also, in 2018 there was an immense number of people leaving and I had been to so many farewells already, I have to admit I was not keen to add my tick to that list with bells and whistles.
But yes, it was hard. And I did cry. Multiple times. But I need to believe that geography alone does not define the quality of my relationships.
And I know that people without pets won’t fully understand this but the fact that I was forced to leave my dogs behind, broke my girls’ and my heart. You have to know, there were more pets living in my house than people. And we had reached the stage where they got away with murder, sitting on the couch and everything.. I was planning and was all prepared to take them with me by the way. But with the Dane being old and frail, a 15-hour flight, and everyone ending up in an appartment in a big city.. not ideal. Thank god we found good homes for them. I try not to think about them too much, it still sends a painful twang to my heart. (Sorry, I said I was not going to get sentimental..)
When it comes to stuff and belongings, I actually recommend that everyone tries this at least once in their life: a complete and total purge. I am not a materialistic person to begin with (I think?) but getting rid of almost everything is something else. And god, do people gather crap over the years. The girls and I will live from 6 suitcases for the upcoming months. Until we start gathering crap again that is of course.
All in all, I guess I will keep in touch with some people, and the ones you keep in touch with become all the more special because of it. I will make sure we have a foldable couch in Santiago just in case. And of course, hurray for Facebook. Because I can name a list of annoying aspects about it but being able to connect to other global citizens is definitely a plus. And as far as I know, it is not forbidden in Tanzania yet?