“Nina is leaving to France”, my daughter announces this morning.
She says it without a flicker of emotion that runs through her voice. I know she’s unhappy about it. She’s only seven and Nina is her best friend, her champion, the girl who makes her feel special every morning she goes to school.
Dare I tell her that Mayen is leaving too? End of this year? Back to the States where my Tamara also longs to be? Mayen is BFF too, and more importantly she also comes from New York, or close. The girls share heritage here!
I deep search into her eyes.. I see sadness, acceptance.. or is it just my mind willing me to see in her eyes what I truly feel inside my own heart?
This is the hardest part of life as an expat mom.
The loss you feel with every move is a family sized one! No single portions here! You mourn every BFF any of your children ever made. You start shuffling that ever-so-tight travel budget purse trying to figure out how you’ll plan the next reunion. Destinations keep spreading as we move from post to post and the children each make their own friendships, just to lose them months or years later. And those friendships turn to virtual friendships, and my job to plan for reunions turns into an impossibly tangled web of destinations across the globe... This a UN tight mini purse, remember? they don't factor in friendship budgets when they calculate our worth as expat UN families.
I take a pause.
Do they really suffer the way I think they do? My kids were born into this life. They don’t know any other. Childhood friendships are a foreign concept to them. Or maybe it’s a concept that they have redefined to suit their rootless lifestyles. Maybe they are OK with it and I need to be watchful not to overflow my own personal baggage onto their tiny resilient heads.
I love this life, but I’m old enough to appreciate the upside of this journey. And even then, I can’t but experience the sudden flip when I miss a friend, or a moment or a memory that was forever etched in my brain. A moment like now while I’m writing this and I remember that same moment a year ago, when I sat writing about my upcoming move to ZA and I left the writing to flip through photos of my trip to Costa Rica with Hoda. By the time I was done I had to rush to go meet Estelle for a quick 5k run around her house. We were training for my first 5 k in New York,, a sort of a good bye bucket list that I had developed to cope with the move, a list all my fiends conspired and obliged to fulfill.. I miss my friends in Westchester.