The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Live the life you have always dreamed of

on August 29, 2013

I have a friend who is about to embark on a wonderful new adventure, albeit an unexpected one. In a few weeks all her worldly possessions will be packed up and shipped over to Hong Kong for a new beginning that will be both familiar, because she’s lived there before, and wildly different, because she’s no longer the late night party loving free spirit of ten years ago. In saying that, she was out until 3am last night!

I call it an unexpected adventure because neither she nor I envisaged this move a mere 3 months ago. Now, I know that living in an Expat world this is what happens. Most people are based in Singapore for only a few years and in my almost 5 years here I have waved off over 30 friends to new countries (some have even moved back to Singapore for round two which of course is a Yay!) and saying Goodbye is always a wrench but it has dramatically boosted the number of Facebook Friends I have. Being far away from home and sharing some unique experiences like becoming parents for the first time and not fully being able to integrate into the local community is quite bonding. I feel very honoured to say that I would count many of these people as proper friends and not just Facebook Friends.

If you were to believe in fate then I would say my friendship with Unexpected Adventure friend reinforces the existence of it. We first met over 22 years ago, both of us grew up in the North East of England, she is a refined Geordie. At the age of 16/17, I met a group of similar aged Chinese people, I guess like all adolescents you’re keen to feel a sense of community and want to share with others interests that are culturally relevant to them too. So we hung out in the same crowd for a couple of years before we went off to University and then pathways become more diverse for everyone and you just end up losing touch.

However, with the power of social media, a mutual friend got in contact a couple of years before I moved out to Singapore and when I told this friend that I was heading this way, she told me that Unexpected Adventure friend was living here too with her husband and young son. So a couple of months after landing in Singapore, we met up and of course after a break of 15 years it takes some time to find common ground, catch up and build a new friendship based on our current lives and not one built on ‘Do you remember when..’. Although that does creep in every now and then and we have a good giggle about things like what we wore, what we did for social activities (going for walks in the woods at night, BBQs on South Shields beach on Christmas Eve) and what seemed important.

Since we reconnected, our friendship slowly simmered away at a steady pace. As I found my feet with becoming a Mum to #1 and navigating a way through my own adventure in Singapore, we always kept in touch and met up occasionally and as #1 grew older it started being about the boys getting to know one another too. Then along came #2, a girl whom Unexpected Adventure dotes on and then #3, whom Unexpected Adventure would probably bundle up to Hong Kong with her if she had the space. So Unexpected Adventure has been present for the arrival of all three of my children and been one of the first people to see them newly pushed out. Only one of two people (I might call the other one Mad Cat Woman) outside of Husband who can claim that role. I think living in an Expat world that is quite a rare thing to have.

She is more like family now and the children have bonded so well together. If I am honest I had envisaged myself being the one to leave her behind in Singapore but not for a while yet and with plenty of notice and plans to meet up in the UK every year and being safe in the knowledge that she would be here for our trips back with the children.

She was also meant to be here throughout my year to 40 as well! I was going to prop her up first and then she was going to help me. But plans change don’t they. I know why she has to go and it is selfish of me to want her to stay when eventually I would leave Singapore myself. It’s just that I will miss her. She is so unlike me. Much more calm, resourceful, patient and the children love her and she loves them. She always thinks of them and knows what sort of treats would cheer them up. Which is why I am also angry that all this in her hasn’t been recognised and appreciated like it should and why it helps me accept the changes ahead because I want for her the life that she has always dreamed of and nothing less.

As friends, we can choose to be as visible as we like and for me she is always wearing a flourescent safety vest. I am sad now to say Goodbye but I know she has a new future ahead of her that will bring happiness and exciting possibilities with someone who is deserving of this truly amazing, warm and kind hearted woman. Besides, she’s only moving to a new country that’s still in the same time zone and one that I’m very likely to visit seeing as half my family live there.

This time, though our paths may have to diverge again, you can be sure it won’t be 15 years before I see her again. Can I just say again, publicly, and whilst she can’t see the tears rolling down my face, that I am so grateful for having met her in the first place and for finding such a wonderful friend again. I never would have imagined we would be such good friends, 22 years ago but look at us today.

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