It’s that season again. The season when some of us are creating our packing lists for heading home for the summer and others are packing up for good. It’s that time when some of us are moving on to the next country, next adventure, or just back home and back to normalcy. I feel like this year more than others, people are moving out of Shanghai to repatriate or start their next assignment. One of those people is my very own Shanghai Bestie.
I've mentioned Janet before in one of my blogs and for a year and a half there has hardly been a week that's gone by that we haven’t hung out. When the news came out that she'd be moving back to Toronto I was like: meh whatever, we still have time! But that time has slowly slipped through our fingers and her moving day is Thursday! THURSDAY! Now it just feels as if there was never enough time.
Having lived here for over two years I've said goodbye to friends a few times now. It’s never easy but I always try to look at it with a glass-half-full attitude. I think of it like: yes I’m losing a friend I can have lunch with, but I’m gaining a friend I can visit in a new country! However, that doesn’t make the feeling of never knowing which friend is the next on the plane easier. It can be a bit exhausting playing the game of “are you leaving? No? Yes? No?" and so can be finding new friends to fill the inevitable void that is left after someone leaves.
Short (face-to-face) friendships may be fleeting but that doesn’t make them any less fierce. I’ll always have that friend who I went on a street food adventure with who wisely chose not to look directly at the rat staring back at her from the stall she was buying a bing from. I’ll always have the memory of shutting down Hai Di Lao and being asked to leave when my friend just couldn't stop eating. I’ll always be able to tell the story of a friend running out of ladies night only to be found no longer wearing her dress in the back of my car. I’ll always remember that time when I met my first South African friend and she was like “come to my house for a braai!” and it took me 3 days to figure out she invited me to a BBQ.
All these memories I've made with women whom I've known for a short amount of time but that have had no less impact on my life than those who I have known for much longer.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you about surviving in this transient society without going full blown head case, it’s to cherish the time you've spent with your friend and remember that just because someone moves on from Shanghai it never means that you have to move on from your friendship. Just like how you keep in touch with those back home, your mission is now to keep in touch with friends all over the world - and that is why we have the internet after all!
So, tomorrow I will spend a wonderful lunch saying see you soon (we are from the same hometown after all, I’m that lucky) to my Shanghai Bestie at Hai Di Lao. Where we’ll likely shut down the place again. Yes she’s that girl and she doesn’t care how long I impatiently stare at her from across a table filled with cabbage. And neither do I. Precious memories after all.