Living overseas is a wonderful experience, dear reader. You get the privilege of seeing amazing things, meeting wonderful people, having your worldview challenged on a daily basis, and going through the kind of life altering changes that, were they to happen on prime time TV, would be accompanied by a Tori Amos song and some sort of smoke effects. Maybe even a wind machine, if it’s classy.
In my seven years abroad I think my life has been changed forever at least 47 times, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always for the interesting. I truly feel like it has made me a stronger person and allowed me to come to grips with much of the emotional baggage I had been carrying around, like my childhood traumas and relative lack of calf muscles.
And now, after living in Myanmar, Taiwan, and Congo, I am getting ready to move to a new country, a new job, and a new world. I will meet new friends, have new experiences, and hopefully not end up breaking up a fight between an undead robot and a mummy with acidic flesh melting powers.
Greatest movie about a mummy and an undead robot fighting Mexican grave robbers ever made? Probably. At least top 5.
So, reader, life is good.
Wait- what? Catch, you say?
Oh, THAT catch.
For every new world, for every new friend, there is a long goodbye. Now that I am moving on to my fourth country I have been tallying up a long list of farewells and departure high fives, and it is getting to the point where I am afraid to look at it. At each place I have left behind friends- friends that I would consider family if I could know them for longer. I remember the last nights watching Fawlty Towers in Myanmar with Big Dan Bones, the final karaoke sessions with Ben, Pete and Luc (Highway Star!), and those embraces/goodbyes with Rayna, Bauman, Courtney, and like fifty other people. Some of them I still talk with regularly, some I hear from on Facebook, and some have drifted away into the void like that one kick ass Twilight Zone episode.
In Taiwan I spent one of my last nights with Allison and Jeremiah, a great couple who arrived in the country on the same day as me, helped me through some difficult times (mostly involving my boss trying to replace me with his wife), and always, ALWAYS, made me feel welcome in their home. That last night Jeremiah went to like three different restaurants to find my favorite foods and beers, and it was a sad ride down in the elevator afterwards. They are in Nepal now and have a baby I have never met (oh god cheap plug for their blog here). Hopefully one day soon our paths will cross.
Last Friday I threw my last TASOK rager. It was a fantastic time but also very bittersweet. I know, realistically, I will never see most of these people again, and over the years that knowledge gets harder and harder to take. I have had some great times with people and made some good friends. I would like to think I have carved out some kind of greasy legacy here, and over the next 10 years I hope at least one of the four kids I hung out with regularly develops an unexplainable urge to listen to Fear Factory and/or GWAR, but who knows?
Sometimes teaching overseas is like that parable that is in every grandparent’s bathroom ever- the one with Jesus on the beach with that lazy dude, except when you look back the tide has come in so your footprints have been washed away. And Jesus is playing Angry Birds on his iPod. And there is probably a bonfire somewhere. It’s the kind of deal where you can be surrounded by people doing the same thing but still feel super alone, like watching The Lorax with a room full of Tea Party activists.
You damned socialist.
So it’s hard- you have to balance the lust for adventure, the craving for the unknown, with knowledge that, at some point, if you keep saying goodbye to everyone you’ll end up dying alone somewhere while watching an incomprehensible South American game show.
You get the idea. Hey, I always get morbid towards the end of the year, so don’t mind me.
What’s my point? Well, I dunno, I kind of lose track of things sometimes, but I guess that in a few weeks I’ll be saying goodbye to a great group of friends again. To all those people, thank you for letting me into your life, in whatever capacity. If I sweated or bled on any of you I apologize, but only a little, because one can’t fight nature.
I hope we will get a chance to meet again.
Especially if we could do it like an old western:
I am sitting at a bar in some god forsaken corner of the world, nursing a gritty beer, and a shadow crosses over the table. I look up, squinting at the sun which for some reason is indoors, and you are staring down at me, your eyes red with . . . something. Anger? Sadness? Allergies? You scratch the long scar running down the left side of your face, spit on the dirt floor and speak with a voice made of broken glass. “Lippart, you son of a bitch”.
Man, that’d be sweet.