Thursday, December 6, 2012

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

I still pinch myself when I think about how lucky we’ve been in making friends in Aberdeen. The demographics of the expat community in this town have changed a lot over the past 4 years, and if we’d arrived 2 years ago, we would have been some of the only people under the age of 35 around. There has been an explosion of young professionals (and their displaced housewives) arriving in Scotland, and we've been fortunate to fall right into the wave.
About two weeks after arriving in Aberdeen, I was starting to feel lonely and wondering how to go about making friends. That very same day, my brother’s best friend facebook messaged me with the contact information for Nary, a girl he knew living in Aberdeen. I contacted her and she invited me, sight unseen, to watch the Bachelorette with a group of her girlfriends.

Me being the chronically shy girl that I am, was slightly terrified. I showed up with a bottle of red in my hand and walked into a room full of strangers.  To say that I was intimidated would be a massive euphemism. But I had nothing to fear because those strangers quickly became some of my dearest friends.
That was the first time I met Tanvi. Nary asked me what I liked to do for fun and I humiliatingly blurted out ‘uh, I have two dogs”. Bingo. That got Tanvi’s attention and we quickly discovered that we both have Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (aka angels sent straight from heaven).
My angel, Samson

Tanvi's angel, Luca
If you think cat ladies are crazy, you have never met a Cavalier lady. We instantly bonded over our mutual obsession with the floppy eared breed and I knew we’d be lifelong friends. Flash forward 7 months and Tanvi, her husband Ram, and their sweet pup Luca are leaving Aberdeen for the sunny skies of Dubai.

Saying goodbye is hands down the hardest part of being an expat, and it seems like we’re continuously doing it. Whether it’s parting with our family back home for an unknown period of separation, or wishing dear friends luck in their next adventure, saying goodbye stinks.

The tradition in Scotland is that whenever a person is moving away you throw them a leaving  “do” (the word ‘do’  is interchangeable with the word ‘party’.) I’ve attended various ‘leaving do’s since arriving in Aberdeen, but last Saturday’s was by far the hardest as we toasted to Ram and Tanvi’s dwindling time in Aberdeen. 

Highland Coo Cupcakes!!!

Scottish flag cupcakes!!!
The night started with tapas, sangria, and cupcakes at La Tasca and then moved on to Paramount for vodka and dancing.

It was a fun celebratory time.....mostly. Before going out I emailed my mom to tell her how sad I was about losing Tanvi. She gave me this advice: The goodbye party is for fun; save the tears for when she actually leaves. I almost made it through the whole night, but sentiment got the better of me and I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t get through the evening without shedding a tear or two…or five.

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post because I just don’t want to face it. I know we’ll keep in touch, but she’s such a part of my daily life, it pains me to think of how much I’ll miss her. And it’s just hitting me like a ton of bricks that this is part of the expat cycle. Our little circle can’t stay here. We will all eventually move on from Scotland. If you were to flash forward 6 years, I doubt any of us would still live here.

Our hope is that maybe we’ll all cycle back to Houston together, or maybe we’ll get thrown together in another destination (hopefully AustraliaJ). Luckily I’ve seen my parents go through this. I've seen that in the expat community, 'keep in touch' isn't simply a vague unanswered promise.

I’ve seen them repatriate and stay in contact with dear friends that they served expat assignments with.  I’ve seen them meet for holidays and join each other for vacations. I’ve seen them attend each other’s children’s weddings. And that’s my hope for Tanvi and Ram. That one day we’ll attend their childrens’ weddings. That in 30 years, we’ll still meet for a girl’s weekend and play Mahjong.
It doesn’t change the fact that their departure will leave a big gaping hole in our social circle here in Aberdeen, but it gives me some comfort to look to the future and wonder what adventure will bring us back together again. And that’s the thought that kept me (mostly) composed for their leaving do. But I’m not making any such promises for when their flight departs from ABZ….
Bon Accord, Tanvi, Ram, and Luca. Happy to meet, sorry to part, and happy to meet again....


  1. We just found out that our FIRST friends that we met here are moving to Brazil. My heart sank when I heard the news. I know exactly how you feel. They live right down the street and if I ever need anything, they are there. However, I know how excited they are to move onto another journey as they have been here for 4 years. So, I'm trying to keep my happy face on even though deep down I'm bummed out. Sorry that a friend is leaving Aberdeen. It just goes to show that you should always live in the moment and enjoy the moment. New friends will soon arrive, I'm sure of it. :) Plus, now you have a reason to see Dubai. :)

  2. Parting in such sweet sorrow!!! The idea of seeing them again in another foregin location or back on this side of the pond makes you look forward to your next assignment also. The friends you meet will become lifelong friends as some of your high school friends still are. You are a wonderful friend and I am sure you guys will stay in touch. Whether it be a daily, weekly or monthly email. You will stay in touch. Keep your girlfriends close to your heart always and remember to have good friends like you do you must be a good friend (and you are)!! Love you and miss you much. Wish I could be there to hug and kiss away some of those tears

  3. I remember how sad I was when you told me you were moving to Aberdeen last March. I still miss you, but your blog makes it possible to share your Aberdeen tour - ups and downs. I certainly hope you cycle back to Houston in the future.