Monday, October 31, 2011

Expat goodbyes suck as much as any.

©flickr By √oхέƒx™
A few friends have packed it up to go back to their homelands recently and for lack of a deep, emotionally and intellectually moving way of expressing this, I'll just say what I usually do... it f*cking blows man.

It's hard enough saying goodbye to home. Your friends, family, colleagues, dog, hamster, kitchen sink, etc etc are left behind. That's about as much fun as having your teeth drilled sans Novocaine while taking a math test with someone singing Depeche Mode off-key behind you to "set the mood". (I know. Pretty bad.) But, having friends over here is no easier imho:

1) You both love Paris.
Something happens when you meet expats here, a kind of... "Ahhh yes, I know how you feel" bond is formed about the city. You swap favorite addresses, try new places together and it's inevitable that you feel a certain attachment to those places with those people.

Then, they leave, and you go back to those places. Man, that sucks. There you are, missing people from your old home, and new one. Nothing to be done but bitch and moan to your expat buddies until *they* announce that their own departure from sanity and Paris.

2) You both hate Paris.
Another thing happens: you bitch about the French. Nahnahnahnah.... I love the French, so wag that finger at someone else. But, you can't tell me that you don't have an irrepressible urge to whine about them from time to time when you're an expat in Paris. Dahdahdah, ya do. Period.

Chalk it up to cultural differences, there's always something that will irk you, no matter your origin. The day will come when an atrocious thing (like walking in poo, or watching naked neighbors, or generally too much saliva) will happen to you that an expat friend told you about. All you want to do is go to your favorite bar, sip your favorite drink and bitch to them about how batshit crazy this world is and how you fully understand why people sometimes try to jump off the Eiffel Tower to get away from it.

3) You start sifting.
Paris is on everyone's bucket list, am I right? So people come and go. I've started asking "How long are you here for?" as a means to cope.

What I mean by this question is really something more like "If you turn out to be an awesome person and I want to you to be my BFF, are you going to rip my heart out, spit on it's still beating last moments, and then do the mexican hat dance around it by leaving 6 months after we buy matching necklaces??"

4) Another one bites the dust
Before you know it, you're wrackin'em up. One after another and you start thinking to yourself, "Damn. I've said more goodbyes here than I did at home". Total Paris Buzz-kill.

Any expats out there feeling this post?


  1. I totally know what you mean. I haven't even been here that long, and I can relate. You make a quick bond with another expat because you have this shared tangible love for a foreign land, and an insane notion that you can create a new home abroad. And then they leave, and you feel like you are somehow a little more alone.

    As for the sifting, I felt that I lot from the other side when I first got here - people checking me out... is she really staying...or isn't she? And I totally get it.

    Also, your point #2 made me laugh out loud. So, thanks for that.

  2. For better or worse, Shannon, after 21 years in Paris, I think it's safe to say I'm in it for the long run.

    That said, I have seen my share of expats come and go and come tot he conclusion that it doesn't matter as long as I can still have a monthly movie pass for 18€/month in a country that sells kebab-frites on every street corner.

  3. i have been both the person arriving, judging those that were here for a few months .. shall I make effort if they are here then leavning.. and now I am the one leaving...

    I've concluded life is full of moments, rolled into one big journey, and the journey will take you to their home, and back again.. it's this that helps define who we are. If they are / were your BFF.. they still are.. and distance doesn't make a difference. it just sucks when you want to go to your fav cafe

    I leave tomorrow, but will be back in 3 weeks because I love Paris and the friends I have made here


  4. The thing is R .. as 'they' say, its better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right!? Im pretty sure that although your 2 years in Paris may not have been the making of you, they were no doubt, part of what has made you the incredible person you are... In response to your post above, i can assure you that however sad you may feel now .. you're coming back home to familiar surroundings and to those that love you dearly .. bon voyage gay paris .. but you're not really leaving, just returning some video tapes ;O) N x

  5. Maybe you should be one of them and come home, eh? ;)

  6. As someone who finally feels like I'm settling into my life in Germany after almost two years, I totally get the 'feeling people out' thing. None of my friends here have left yet, but I know it will happen eventually. I'm dreading the day it does.

  7. Your timing is spot on! A number of my nearest and dearest are threating to leave Provence...any day now. Argh. But the good news is...I just found your blog...or re-found it...and I think you're very very funny. So keep it comin'! Thanks!

  8. Oh yeah. I, too, have been the one left high and dry, and the one who left Paris. It wasn't an easy decision, partly because of those bonds and friendships I spent two years building... It's sucky on both sides, trust me!

  9. @jenny I agree, you don't need to be here for long to have the feeling of "losing" people :/

    @paul another long-termer yourself, what movie service are you using? Gloweria?

    @r yes, it's true, all about the journey. I have old dear friends back in the states and the distance has only made our bond stronger. Yet, it does blow all the same :(

    @n totally. The journey makes the person. I will never be the same for having lived here either and neither will R be the same!

    @andrea maybe one day, but not yet!!!

    @shoegirl talk to you when it does, we can have a virtual drink and dish.

    @Julie aaaw. Sorry to hear that, just keep the skyping regular and it'll be ok. Glad you like the scribbles.

    @Sweet Good point, sucks on both sides indeed.

    Thanks all for reading :)

  10. establishing yourself as an ex-pat anywhere means you're setting yourself up for a life of missing something. While here, you miss certain people (and things!) from home and when you go home (either for a visit or for good) you'll always miss something from here. So, we're basically just screwed all the way around! That said, I try to keep a positive focus on it and acknowledge that the advantages of experiencing two different places & cultures so deeply has brought more happiness than screwed-ness to my life. And...even though it's really hard to say goodbye to long established friends, I try and think of it not so much as losing friends but as gaining friends in other cool places all over the world. (although there are a few here that if they moved elsewhere I would feel the need to hunt them down, kick their ass and drag them back to Paris!) ;)

  11. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  12. @Elan Of course you would say that, you want me to do more yoga with you and listen to your cartoon voice as you describe your dog's sphincter (highly inappropriate btw)

    @Forest Good sum up, that's exactly it dear :)

    @Tiffany are you spam? I think you are... hmm. If you reply w/ your email, I'll write back.

  13. Totally feeling this post! I have a similar love/hate relationship with Sweden and ALL things Swedish. Not a day goes by in which I don't ask my self "why am I still here". I guess the love for Europe is what keeps me going.


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