Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Amiga, Amigo

Being an ex-pat in another country has all kinds of challenges. Learning the language, if you don't speak it. Learning the accent, if you speak the language. Making friends for coffee catch ups, dinner dates and much needed drunkenness. Meeting locals who will hang out with you sober and put up with your errors in grammar. Finding a place to live and people you can share a kitchen with. Figuring out what you're doing - whether it's volunteering or getting a job or just being the token gringo who goes to parties and hangs out while everybody wonders what it is you actually do. And saying goodbye to all the people you meet who are using the place the same way you are - as a kind of transitory life-experience factory.

That's been the hardest pill to swallow. The onslaught of Goodbyes. One of the things I'm learning over and over again is how to have people in your life and how to let them leave. How to separate the feeling that you want everything to last forever and the reality that there's always a closing scene before the next mini-movie of your life can begin. They say the decade of your twenties is the most transformative, we are all still delaying adulthood in different ways, changing jobs like we change hair styles, trying on relationships for size and not quite committing to anything one hundred percent. But people are the ones that attach themselves more permanently than most anything else. On the crazy spinning tea-cup carnival ride that is the decade of the twenties, there is the meeting of such an incredible volume of delightful characters and fast-friends that you will have trouble letting go of more than a job or a place or an opportunity.

That's the price to pay for all the spinning round, the dizziness when you have to take a moment to stop. In exchange for the two hour conversations at a cafe about whatthefuckisrealloveanyway and howdoesonehelpinanyrealsenseoftheword with the characters that pass through this city, in exchange for the fullness of a house of nine people plus those that seem permanently plastered on a couch or a seat at dinner - in exchange for this there are the bittersweet farewells. The wondering if, even though you say you will, you will really see these people again. The people that have formed the cushion of your life with every familiar question 'How was your day?' and 'What are we doing tonight?' It's that blanket warmth of community that makes it better when you get home tired after work, that makes you sleep deep after a night of drinks and stupidly hilarious laughter, that substitutes for a family of like-minded children who have not yet grown up all the way.

People are always the ones that steal your heart a little. Places in a different sense. Places in a way that is less real and more visceral. People in a way that has everything to do with conversation and small gestures as it does with shared experienced and the recognition of and admiration for the other persons deep and inherent awesomeness. Ain't no ship like friendship, yo. And it's always sad to see somebody else sailing away when you're the one standing on the shore but you get better, little by little, at letting people in and being okay with them leaving, letting go, letting go, letting go.

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