SpectrumExpats Andy Mayer
Yesterday I had a WhatsApp conversation with some friends I made in our last posting. The three of us are in different countries. In our little WhatsApp group we support each other in our quest to find a healthy “balance” of exercise, eating, drinking and parenting so we can ultimately feel our best.
We encourage each other to get our fat arses to the gym and we encourage a glass of vino* and a little cheese platter on the couch . However, mostly we just enjoy the connection and I feel lucky they included me. Inclusion is a much needed “thing” when you don’t have extended family or friends around but also to help navigate the waters of a new city.
Sometimes we become friends with “groups” of people in our expat location purely to be included. This seems more so in hardship posts particularly for trailing spouses. It can be very lonely if you are cast out, excluded or worse. Not being “on the list” can deflate the heartiest of souls.
Often it seems like a revolving door of saying yes. Can’t not go to the coffee morning, must chip in for so and so’s birthday luncheon, promise to swing by after my chores to buy something at the charity bizarre at blah blah’s posh house, will post a FB comment on the picture of the girl’s night out promising to be there next time. All so you get asked again.
My friend brought up the topic that some friends only contact you when they want (to discuss/get an opinion on) something. It got me thinking about the types of friends we keep and why.
I told her we need people on the friendship spectrum to have balance just like our diet and exercise. Both ladies agreed.
This is what I wrote to her.
“Balance is on the friendship spectrum too. Must be an even spread of nerdburgers, drama queens, bitches, gossipers, model citizens, beauty queens, hippies, boozehounds, faghags, Jesus lovers, cake bakers, drug takers, teetotallers, cry babies, ladies who lunch, chicks that drink gin at 5, bossy britches and athiests! The users , the takers and the energy vampires get your ear but rarely! You get to choose every time 💋”
I suppose on deeper inspection we need different friends for different reasons to meet the parts of us that make us whole. I can add probably 30 more to the spectrum just of my friends.
In expat circles we often assume that our experiences make us an homogenous group but with cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, language, upbringing and experiential perception thrown in from living in different countries there are massive differences between expats but the journey to friendship is so much fun.
It is easy to have lots of “friends” on FB but not so easy to maintain friendships (especially as an expat). I am in my 6th country and I usually wear that as a badge of honour but lately it has been tucked in my back pocket as I lean heavily on the friendships from my past and tentatively dip my toe in the new friendship waters.
Next week I will lunch with some school mums. One is Spanish and the other Danish, both have lived as expats with their families in different countries. I suspect our similarities lie in our differences; passport, family, travel, experiences, and the wonderful ability to create fast friends.
My husband thinks expats are a bit like pre schoolers. “Do you like blue? I like blue! Want to be friends ?Let’s go and play.”
I think it sounds more ……… “Do you like Gin?”
*hardly ever is 1 glass of anything
*disclaimer: The friends back in my home country are spectrum friends too. I love and adore them . The ones who I get to see because they can travel get big brownie points. However, this post is about the expats.