Things were so crazy last week that I really haven’t spent much time reflecting on the time I got to spend with family and friends. We made this trip back for a friend, a fact that has elicited comments from other American expats along the lines of, “Must be a good friend. I wouldn’t do it. It’s too much.” Two days back in Bangkok, after the crazy week, and I can completely understand the sentiment. The U.S. is crazy far. However; how often does your college roommate, and a godmother to your children, tie the knot? For me, living on the other side of the world loses its charm if you can’t be there for at least some of your close friends and family’s important events. It’s less about being a good friend and more about continuing to invest in the relationships you’ve taken the time to build.
I did miss things about New York and the States, but I also missed seeing people who know me well. People I have been investing time and energy in getting to know throughout several years. This trip, more so than the last one in April, really became about connecting with people I have known longest – like since second grade. Social media does a great job of preventing people from losing touch with each other, so long as you continue to show up in their feed. What gets lost is direct interaction. So while at home I made sure to see friends I have known for decades, but haven’t seen for some time. The wedding was a mini college reunion too, so it set the trend for the week.
It was energizing to swap stories about what’s going on in our lives – the stories behind the Facebook and Instagram updates. Life may have taken us away from each other, but the kinship was still there. It’s nuts that human relationships have that capacity. When we get older, our circle of friends may get smaller, but I think we can have a stronger hand in determining how much it shrinks. Our kids also need to see their parents continuing to cultivate friendships.
The difficulties of the week also melted away seeing one of my kids chat up our relatives who stopped by to visit. She hadn’t missed a beat with them and got great amusement from bossing my 20something cousin around. Sadly, the insanity of the week means that I have few pictures documenting these moments. Remembering the time they got to spend with their grandmas and great-grandma ultimately makes the trip worth it, even if it doesn’t ease the roughness of settling back in.