Dear World,

This will be the second time in the last 3 years that I will be moving abroad. Trans-Pacific. Changing zip codes, changing phone numbers, changing time zones, changing languages, changing everything. Shedding all my furniture, half of my worldly possessions, and almost everything that I would cobble together as “normal.”

It is not a pleasant experience.

The last time I did this, we sold almost everything. The bed. The desk. The TV. The couch (THAT BEAUTIFUL COUCH!). The computer. The futon. The entertainment center. The chair, the dresser, the end table, and the dining room set went into a friend’s garage. Anything not traveling abroad went into storage. Everything going with us had to fit within 4 bags at less than 50 pounds. And I thought that was hard.

But it wasn’t, not really. Because I wasn’t saying goodbye to my stuff, or my friends or family. Not really. They were always with me, on Facebook or e-mail. They were home whenever I went back on vacation, and they would still be there when I finally returned from Korea.

This time, it’s so, so different. I’ve lived here for three years. I picked up a serious set of language skills for a language that will have very little use to me in America (especially in the mid-west). Sure, I had to shed my furniture and many worldly things again, and who cares? But the relationships I’m leaving behind… well, I’m really leaving them behind. I have many, many Korean friends now, and it will be very difficult if not impossible to see them any time soon, if ever again. They can’t really communicate with  me via e-mail because they aren’t comfortable communicating very well in written form. We communicate by talking, by drawing pictures, by body language, by quickly looking up words as we go. That can’t be done from a distance. That’s not going to happen anymore.

That’s a heavy sadness to carry around.

With most of our things already packed, with furniture being bought daily, with friends coming by to raid our cabinets, cupboards, and crannies, we’re feeling less connected here. We mailed things home, we are canceling the phones and the internet and the utilities, we are unregistering our scooter, we are snipping all the tethers. In that regard, every day is difficult to get through. It’s like everything around us reminds us that we no longer belong here. It’s time to go.

But my relationships – to people, to a society, to a language, to this very specific form of adaptability – where does it go? What happens to it? And what happens to me? Where do I go from here?

And here’s where I get very, very emo. I’ve lived abroad for three years, and for three years my friends from back home were incredibly strong and kind to me. They sent me mail, letters, Skyped with me, sent me messages, kept me up to date on their lives, and didn’t forget about me. It’s been amazing, and I’ll never be ungrateful or forget that. But in the last month, it’s like all communication from back home has dried up. Right, not all – I’ve gotten the occasional, “Are you ready to come home?” and “How are you feeling?” from a friend or acquaintance. But my closest friends, it’s like summer hit, and blam, they have literally disappeared. I’ve messaged them, I’ve called them, I’ve tried to Skype with them, but all I get are answering machines and “Seen” checkmarks, but no replies. I know, it’s life, people are busy, it happens – I do understand that. I don’t take it personally, and I know I can’t expect people to always be extending themselves around the world for me. But actually, these last few weeks may be some of the most emotional and difficult days of living abroad. I just wish my friends were more available to make that transition easier.

Advertisements