Meeting friends somewhere in the world is amazing. A richness that comes from our living internationally.
I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect. Read the Italian version here.
Of all the beautiful and interesting things I discovered and did in Japan, hugging Malena after almost ten years was the one that made me happiest.
Malena is from Argentina and we met in Peru, where we were both living. She then moved to her native Buenos Aires, and when I visited her city, we met and it was wonderful. For two days we walked, visited museums, met people, laughed and shared. Then I quit Latin America and moved to Jerusalem. We kept in touch, sometimes only with a Happy Christmas message. She moved to Shanghai and then to Tokyo.
When I saw her at the door of my hotel, I felt overwhelmed with joy. It was like having left her the day before. This is something all expats will tell you – the feeling time has not passed. And it’s the magic of cultivating friendships at a distance, but with the privilege of being able to sporadically meet in person. Meeting in different parts of the world adds meaning to an already happy event.
There is nothing that fills me with joy and expectation like meeting a friend in a new place. It happened when Florence, my beloved French friend who had moved from Peru to Bosnia while I was in Jerusalem, asked me to join her in Istanbul, where she was attending a conference. Or when I hugged Martin and Cathie on a dusty road in Tuscany, after the war in Congo brutally tore us apart. Or when I sat at a table with Helena, here in Jakarta, ten years after we both left Peru to our respective destinations.
It will happen tomorrow when my Guia and her family land in Jakarta. We spent a couple of years in Jerusalem together, the last one living so close that we talked through messages on our balconies, and I have been missing them so badly since I left Palestine, that I know I’ll never be able to express how happy and moved I am for the chance of seeing them again, and seeing them here where my new home is.
Expat life is like that. We meet where life takes us and in the most disparate places on earth. Each new home opens renewed possibilities of seeing our friends again – it might be geographically closer to them, or close to a place we both want to visit, or interesting enough for them to come and discover. We hug each other in airports, chat in different houses, walk hand in hand in foreign streets, order coffee in barely known languages, but getting together again, even after years, never changes: it’s always full of love, happiness and the warmth that can only come from having shared a part of a very special journey.