Are you still here?

I’ve been saying goodbye for seven months.

I got my new job in November last year, and, while I still worked hard to ‘blossom where I was planted’, in everyone’s mind, including my own, I was on the way out. It intensified in the last couple of months. There were multiple farewell ceremonies at work, and people have been saying goodbye for a solid month at church. I’m sure people have started to think, ‘What—you’re still here?’ I’m saying that to myself, sometimes.

Today I said yet another goodbye (we’ve already had the farewell dinner) to some lovely writing friends at our favorite Starbucks. It’s a Saturday tradition that we meet at what’s probably the coolest Starbucks in Hong Kong, and we write, and talk, and I eat biscotti and drink a grande iced chocolate on soy without cream. It’s taken years to build up these relationships. I love these women and could tell them just about anything.

My son and I are staying with dear friends. The friend I spend my last week with in Hong Kong is the first friend I made here. We laughed together as she reminded me that on my first day at church eight years ago, I introduced myself in class by saying that I had two weeks before school started and I needed to make friends fast. Our youngest boys are about the same age and became best friends too.

Tomorrow another friend will come and have lunch with me. She helped me stay sane through some particularly difficult personal challenges.

It’s hard to leave good friends. The hardest people to leave are the ones who are not on Facebook. That sounds shallow even to me, but I don’t believe what people say about FB—that you can’t build real relationships there. As an expat, I don’t think I could survive without it. I love the photos, the silliness, the updates, the messages. I willingly believe the illusion that we’re not really thousands of miles apart. We’re just a status update apart.

In 24 hours, my son, my mini schnauzer and I will be almost at the airport.

I’m ready.

I’m all goodbyed out.

I’m ready for some hellos.

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