Friday, September 11, 2009

Until We Meet Again Soon

It's hit me.

I'm not certain what triggered this heavy, sad feeling, whether it was the come-down from a delicious mid-week escape to a beach cottage in Bilene with friends, or an unexpected email awaiting my return that took me back in time 10 years and made me reflect upon previous places, previous goodbyes, previous me's.

The uncertainty of what's to come, though sometimes daunting, is definitely not what makes me anxious about moving. I love change, thrive on it, really. I like knowing that my next months and years will be completely different from the last ones, that I will be in a new city, living in a different home, with blues and lilac-grays on the walls instead of terracotta and brown, blueberries for breakfast instead of mangoes, keeping my reinvented self busy with a new job, fresh passions, undiscovered friendships. These are the things I think about when faced with change. I rarely get eaten up by the more practical bits like, "How will I find a new job?" or "Who will cat sit when we travel?" or "How long can I live on my savings if everything goes wrong?" I mean, of course I think about those things - I am a planner at heart - but I don't dwell upon them. They don't really bother me. I believe things will fall into place, somehow, sometime. Until then, I know I'll be okay.

What bothers me is all that I leave behind. The friends, the lifestyle, the particular smells and sights of a city and a home, the language, the foods, the late nights out dancing that sometimes, though not quite often enough, end up with a sunrise and a coffee, high heels in hand.

I believe the serial expat becomes a master at making friends in a record amount of time. I suppose it's either that or become a recluse, which is certainly a valid option (Lord knows I love staying at home with cats, tea, my jewelry supplies and maybe a little trashy tv to round it off). Still, I am definitely one to establish my friendships quickly and then desperately try to hold on when, inevitably, one of the parties moves on to new adventures. Somehow it's easier to process when you say only one goodbye at a time. Apparently now that it's my turn to leave, I'm turning into quite the sentimental sap, even though some of my best friends here I've known for little more than 3 months.

What happens to all these friendships? How many do we really keep? How many of these special people do we ever actually see again, despite the fact that many of us are frequent travelers? The answer, I fear, at least looking back at my own life and experiences with moving, is that we maintain precious few of those connections. Part of what makes me so sad about the prospect of moving away from Maputo is that I've established the most wonderful friendships here, and I'm afraid they will all fade and slip away.

Much of it is my own fault. For as much as I love to write (letters back in the day, blog and email currently), I am actually quite shit at keeping in touch with friends and family. I really struggle to maintain constant contact with anyone except my mom and dad, rather going through intense bursts of communication followed by months - sometimes even years - of silence. Sometimes this doesn't critically affect a friendship, especially if it was one born and rooted over a 2-day music festival, or on an 8-hour plane ride. Other times, the lack of regular contact makes the relationship wither away. Recuperating those neglected connections can be hard, if not impossible. I'm trying to be a bit better about phone calls and responding to emails, but it's easy to move away and slip into a pattern of non-communication. I really don't want that to happen this time around.

For the first time in recent memory, I have an incredibly special group of friends here in Maputo. In all the other cities I've lived over the past decade, I've had deep connections with individuals, but they seldom knew each other and weren't really inclined to go the same places or do the same things. Here, however, I have a core group of about 7 or 8 friends - some of whom I've known for several years now - who really define much of what I love about life in Maputo. I can't imagine saying goodbye, or even the more hopeful até logo.


RD said...

Ali, as someone who's moved a lot in my lifetime, I understand your feelings of loss. For some of us it's hard to make friends, and harder still to leave them behind, knowing that time and distance will draw us further apart. I think friendship is so important, and I feel I work hard to maintain them. Nonetheless, too many of these friendships dissipate over time, so that I sometimes do wonder if it's worth the effort. I know it is, but saying good-bye is hard. I sympathize. Enjoy your last days in Maputo. Exciting days are ahead, and I hope you can enjoy them with these friends that mean so much to you.

Ali la Loca said...

~RD - It is definitely worth the effort, but the constant goodbyes are difficult to manage. I'm definitely on a mission to make the most of these last 10 days in Maputo. Thanks for such a kind message.