As a rather obsessive prepare-for-the-worst planner, I read up on becoming an expat before I became one. I learned mostly about culture shock; the initial honeymoon period, followed by the inevitable pit of despair/regret/homesickness, and the eventual adjustment to a new normal.
|to put it mildly|
- Expats inevitably move back home or on to new adventures.
- Some of those expats will be your very dearest friends.
- Occasionally, several of your dearest friends will leave all at once.
- It sucks big time.
Basically, add another giant pit of despair after the "acceptance" part of the graph, plummeting your emotional state past the x-axis into negative territory. I don't know why it's missing here, but I can only assume the graph-creator was too busy weeping in a corner because her best friend just moved away.
This has been a hard, heartbreaking summer for goodbyes.
Obviously, we didn't travel back to the USA this summer. It's so expensive for the four of us to go every year, plus we had family lined up to come visit us here this summer. Yet looking back now, I'm actually grateful that we were here all summer to spend quality time with good friends before they left and to say a proper goodbye, as painful as it was (and still is).
|Daphne wrote and performed a special goodbye song for (her honorary Uncle) Martyn.|
The. Heart. Breaks.
We said one more big goodbye this month, and that was to Facebook.
Why? It's a long story, but here's the short version: Pete, who was never a big fan, hasn't checked it regularly for years. I, on the other hand, checked it obsessively. I recently tried to cut back on my addiction by un-following over half of my friend list, hoping to focus my interactions on the people I care most about.
Facebook fought back. Its nutty algorithms filled my feed with increasingly extraneous information about (or barely even about) the remaining people, and my news feed was rendered ridiculous. I had felt a bit creepy about Facebook for a long time - my own dependent relationship to it as well as the general way it operates - but for some reason this particular experience was enough motivation for me to cut the cord completely. So, I deactivated my account. Pete completely deleted his.
And can I just pause for a moment to show you a couple of the manipulative things Facebook did as I tried to deactivate?
It's been nearly two weeks. Aside from some initial withdrawal symptoms, I honestly haven't missed it much. Instagram (even Pete's), FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Whatsapp are still active, and I hope to continue blogging for the foreseeable future. I remain optimistic that we can still stay in touch with friends around the globe, even after we've said goodbye to them in Luxembourg and despite Facebook's dire warnings to the contrary.
So please do say hello in the comments here every once in awhile. We'll see how it goes!