Did it ever occur to you that we, rovers and “steady” temporary residents alike, flock to this island to winter…
through various personal or economical turmoils, or simply seek sunnier climates to grow our dreams and cultivate new opportunities. Just like migrating birds spreading their wings in order to exchange cold seasons of their homeland for transient warmer pastures. However, most of us, like these migrating birds, tend to return back home… eventually.
When nearly three years ago we zealously joined echelons of the expat community in Bahrain, a very wise French lady (who moved here initially only for six months… now somewhat seventeen years ago) kindly proffered us some helpful practical advice. All of which appeared very comprehensible and useful. However, one phrase in particular struck me most, mainly because, back then, I could not grasp its full meaning. “The hardest thing is to see one’s friends of several or many years move on and move away, thus leaving a void in their stead”.
Striving to veil the palpable bewilderment on my visage, I filed this remark to be pondered upon later. Much later, as it turned out to be. Because after painstakingly learning all the mandatory ropes of a new “recruit”, I realised that one quickly adapts to the scorching heat, or…freezing dampness of one’s unheated apartment in January, by a trial and error masters a “Five-Word-Vocabulary-English” (as anything more complex will get your support staff lost in translation) and grasps the rudiments of the unpunctuality of “Inshallah-Time”.
“First cut is the deepest”, sings Mr. Rod Stewart, and perhaps he is right.
One learns to survive without ones favourite food and even manages to replace the trusted hairdresser (although not applicable in my case), doctor and dentist, all of which can be rather smoothly achieved with “a little help from my friends”. But when one of the aforementioned friends announces that she is leaving, the sad realisation dawns upon you, that true friends (albeit fairly newly minted), in a sharp contrast to tailors, doctors and nail technicians, can not be so easily replaced.
“First cut is the deepest”, sings Mr. Rod Stewart, and perhaps he is right. But as I bade a tearful farewell to my first ‘migrating friend’, I could not help but wander, how do you protect yourself from the future cuts? By being less emotionally involved, less giving or forming a lesser bond. Chmm…to a nice kind of comradeship this would then lead…
Perhaps best is to accept the fact that our human heart will never cease loving and feeling, thus do not even try to restrain oneself from embracing ardently all possible friendships that the benevolent destiny ushers our way.
The cuts will heal, but the heartwarming memories will remain.
Besides, just imagine how grim and colourless our lives would be if we had no friends to share this island’s sunshine with…