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Monday, October 18, 2010


When Brandon joined the Foreign Service, I was excited about many things.  I looked forward to living somewhere with mangoes.  I planned to stay only in countries with easily available domestic help.  I was happy that Brandon didn't have to freeze Stouffer's products anymore for a living.  I knew there were many good things to look forward to.

One pleasure I didn't anticipate, however, was the pleasure of making new friends.  After marrying, I never felt a keen need for extra friends; Brandon is my best friend and who needs more than that?  I had friends in my wards, but everyone also had their own lives that I was a visitor in.  And that didn't bother me.

I have heard that two people only need two points of similarity to become friends.  When I joined the Foreign Service community, there was suddenly a wealth of people that I shared two points of similarity with: we were women, and we were living overseas.  And at church we immediately had three: we were women, we were living overseas, and we were LDS.

Suddenly I had a social life where one had never existed.  I went to play groups, I had play dates, I went out to lunch, I had a baby shower thrown, I was invited to henna parties, cocktail parties and grand going-away parties.

And this social life is not based on any personal worth of my own; it's just because I'm here.  Almost nobody lives overseas permanently, and so everyone is always just moving in or getting ready to leave.  There is no fixed 'in' group, and everyone is always happy to make another friend.  Because of this flux, friendships spring up quickly and grow firm in almost no time at all.  We all have some trauma associated with Egypt that we can share and everyone needs a listening ear to complain in.

The only downside to the caring group of women I have found myself in is the cause of such fast friendships: we all move.

We become strongly attached to another, and then somebody leaves and you honestly never know if you will ever see each other again.  I have the number of a friend who was only here for the summer in my phone, and every time I scroll past her name, I feel a stab of sorrow for another friend gone, and no more time left here for the friendship.

But that is one of the many pitfalls of the Foreign Service.

A childhood song comes to mind whenever I think of friends made and friends lost.
"Make new friends and keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold."


Z. Marie said...

What a great post! And sad, too, of course. (You don't know me, but we're also FS and also LDS. We're in Milan. I think you probably know some of our friends in Cairo.)

UnkaDave said...

You never know when they'll pop up again. Keep collecting them!
Also, from our brief time in Cairo, I remember lots of locals that wanted to be my friend: "My friend! My friend! Special price for my American friend!"

PaulaJean said...

Nicely said.

Bridget said...

Very well put.