My best friend moved abroad, and then my other best friend did the same, all in one year.
To be honest, I didn’t think I could deal. But it turns out I could. And there are some hidden benefits to having friends overseas.
Let me start from the beginning.
My last job wasn’t great. On paper, it sounded perfect. Travel around the world, help young people find their passion; what’s not to love?
Well, when the reality ends up being you in a Cheyenne, Wyoming Hampton Inn eating peanut butter straight from the jar by yourself, you learn that very few people can relate to your lifestyle.
Luckily, bad jobs build camaraderie. As it turns out, working 70 hours a week for a terrible boss is the perfect recipe for life-long friendship. Enter Liz and Andrea, my two closest “adult” friends. It wasn’t long before we were sharing a camping spot at Bonnaroo and getting kicked out of dive bars together.
Eventually, I left the job we shared for something that would allow me to sleep in my own bed and work reasonable hours. But I wasn’t worried about our friendship taking a hit. We still lived within day-trip distance of each other, and our shenanigans endured.
Until Liz started talking about moving away. Far away.
I have to be honest – never in a million years did I think Liz would actually go to Costa Rica. It’s not that she doesn’t have the guts or that she couldn’t hack it in the jungle; it is that she is so unorganized.
When her lease ended she spent her time bouncing from couch to couch. This might have given the impression that she was leaving if she was normal. Liz is not normal. I am 100% sure she could have lived on couches for years before she got tired of not having a home. No, it wasn’t until I saw her one-way ticket to Costa Rica that I believed her. She was actually going to leave us.
Because the idea of her leaving had been so abstract, it was a slap in the face when I realized she was leaving. I am a millennial, so my first reaction was very selfish. Who was going to drink Miller Lite by the pool with me? Who would talk me through all of my mental breakdowns? Who would go to music festivals with me? Who would push me to be more spontaneous? Who would be standing next to me at 4 AM in a dive bar eating grits?
She would be living her best life in Costa Rica and I would be stuck in my cookie cutter apartment with my cookie cutter job in my cookie cutter city. How could she possibly do this to ME?
I cried because my friend was gone, and I cried because I wasn’t with her. I cried because there was a part of me that honestly thought she might die down there.
After my 15 minutes of disgusting narcissism, I got over myself. I became elated for my friend. She was going to drop everything and move to the jungle. What she was doing was so brave, so exotic, and so her. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the right choice for her. So I planned her going away party and put a smile on my face. I tried to make sure that her last few weeks in the States were some of her best and I hugged her goodbye as she packed her car up and left.
I remember the day Liz flew to Costa Rica. It was actually real. She had left. When I got home from my boring job and sat in my boring apartment I cried. I cried because my friend was gone, and I cried because I wasn’t with her. I cried because there was a part of me that honestly thought she might die down there. I pictured her as the next Natalie Holloway. Some stupid blonde girl that thought it would be a good idea to go cliff diving with a local at a full moon party.
But the sadness passed. And about two months after Liz left, we went to visit her in Nicaragua. Central America is intoxicating and it was so easy to see why she loved it there. Tan, happy, and in a great relationship, she was doing really well. My time there made it easier to say goodbye.
And then, just as I began to accept Liz leaving, Andrea took a job in Hong Kong. Whereas Liz’s move was temporary, the loss this time was indefinite.
Here are two people I love dearly making huge, life changing moves. I wasn’t even thinking about changing my hair color, much less my address. What was wrong with me?
If I had a small breakdown when Liz left, I had a complete mental come apart when Andrea told me the news. I, once again, experienced all the feels. I probably cried for a week. My friendship with Andrea had grown stronger with Liz’s absence, and now I would be down not one, but two best friends.
Andrea is the opposite of Liz. She would never do something as extreme as move across the world without giving it a ton of thought. She had busted her butt at work, and no one has ever deserved a promotion more than her. I knew that this was a good move. She would thrive in her new position and city.
But she was going much farther than Liz. She was creating a permanent life in Hong Kong, and visiting would be difficult. It was hard to swallow. Every time I would start to think about her departure, I was overcome with grief.
My sadness this time was cloaked in self-doubt. It was hard to look at both of their decisions without questioning my own. Here are two people I love dearly making huge, life changing moves. I wasn’t even thinking about changing my hair color, much less my address.
What was wrong with me? I loved being abroad, I loved to travel, and yet every decision I had made in the past 6 months only cemented my life in Atlanta. All of my accomplishments paled in comparison to these two.
Andrea texted us both as she boarded her flight to Hong Kong, and as I sat at my desk tearing up I realized something. I had not one but two friends that I admired fiercely. Two women that I can honestly say I strive to be more like.
There was no doubt in my mind that they were both scared to death as they sat on their planes and watched their homes disappear behind them. I also know that they took solace in my support and friendship. If these two women respected me and the choices I had made, I could too.
I know that my adventure is coming. Or maybe it is already here.
And even though I still feel that twinge of jealousy when I see a snap of Singapore, San Juan del Sur, Auckland, or Granada, I know that my adventure is coming. Or maybe it is already here. After all, if a night at Atlanta’s Clermont Lounge (Google it, you won’t be disappointed) isn’t an adventure, I don’t know what is.
Having friends abroad creates the best opportunity for travel. They already know how to avoid food poisoning, they can help you stumble through the language, and they have no excuse not to meet up with you. So, when you find yourself with a bestie on the other side of the globe – download Whatsapp, and start planning your next trip. Vietnam, we’re coming for you.
What if your best friend moved abroad? Do you already have a loved one overseas? How do you deal?
Start a conversation in the comments below!