I had a wonderful day this Saturday, so wonderful that left me thinking for long hours last night.
We visited one of my best friends. Last time we got together as families was 4 years ago before they left for Kenya for a country assignment. Lizzy and Teri were still babies, and now they are 5 and 6. Yet, time seems have not passed at all between us. It felt like just one of our usual weekend get togethers. We had a lot to talk about, our experiences living abroad, our pandemic life, our current and future lives, etc. Since the moment we stepped in at 11:20am to the moment we left 2:40pm, we didn’t pause.
They are one of those people that are just beautiful, kind, caring, incredible smart too. Our mindset are so in sync. We care deeply about each other and people around us. They are my family and I will forever treasure them no matter how many miles away we are from each other. The last 4 years has been the proof of our friendship. We didn’t talk often, I saw Sarah twice during my work trips to DC, we texted each other every few months, but whenever any of us needed to talk, we were there for each other. When we got together, things are just where we left 4 years ago.
Even the girls hit right on. I didn’t need to show them baby pics playing together. Somehow they just pick it up right away too.
It is also great that we work in the same organization and similar fields. So we had a lot to talk about in term of work and what we learned working in the field.
After we left, I was a bit sad because I realized that despite how much we love our life in the Philippines, the part of my life that was missing is this true and pure friendship. I didn’t know it was lacking until it hit me. I have good friends in Manila, mostly people from work. We get along well and I like them as person. But I know once I leave Manila, those friendships will fade away slowly because what once we shared will no longer be there.
With true friends, it’s not our circumstances that keep us going, it’s our mutual respect, admiration, and deep care in each others’ character that make it enduring. It just gets better with years under our belt.
According to Aristotle’s: true friendship is based on a mutual appreciation of the virtues the other person holds dear. In this kind of friendship, the people themselves and the qualities they represent provide the incentive for the two parties to be in each other’s lives. Friendships of virtue take time and trust to build. They depend on mutual growth. These relationships require time and intention, but when they blossom, they do so with trust, admiration, and awe. They bring with them some of the sweeter joys that life has to offer.
I asked myself if I want to come back to DC after my last year in the Philippines, to come back to this familiar safe stable life in the US. Few months ago, I’d quickly respond as no as we prefer the adventurous life abroad. Now, I’m not sure. I realized I missed this way of life. I asked my friends if they want to leave again for another country assignment. They were not sure but they want to first enjoy few years in this life, which feels like a bubble to me after living in a developing country. Life in the US is easy, efficient, quiet, independent, family centered. Most of basic needs are easily met without even realizing it because every one gets it. In contrast, living in a developing country, basic needs are not met for the majority of people around us, which reminds us not to take for granted anything we have and owe. Maybe my fear of coming back is that I and my girls will forget what’s the life of the majority people in the world, that we will get used to living comfortably, and start questioning and worrying about irrelevant things that people in other parts of the world cannot understand.
I don’t think i have an answer to my question of where we want to live 2022 onward. What I know is that we will make the best of it. Nowhere is perfect and everywhere could be perfect as long as we have the right mindset, and constantly remind us to be grounded no matter the circumstances we live in.
Final realization or change of mind I had is on where I want to retire. Previously I thought of living as nomad at different part of the world would be fun and exciting. Now, I realize that I would like to live close to my best friends, one who’s currently living in the US but might move elsewhere. Another who’s living in Germany and might want to go back to Argentina when she retires. I could live anywhere as long as I have my best friends near by. 🙂