If I have said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. The best part about living abroad is all the incredible people you meet. The hardest part is saying goodbye.
4.5 years ago, when I landed in Seoul I was given a rare gift. I had a work orientation with 100 people, all new to this strange Asian country, for the first ten days. Out of those one hundred I met at least 30 beyond-amazing people, extraordinary people—my rooms, Christina, for example, is a gem I will have forever. As well as the girls I went to church with (Jean, Saet, and Jennifer I am talking about you!).
Then there was a group of us that formed so naturally it was like oil separating from water. We fit together, in a way different from everyone else, in an unexplainable way.
First I met Sam. A masculine, well-dressed, intelligent man with the best smelling cologne by day, a boisterous Canadian man who knows his beer like the back of his hand by night—well day too. Then, there was Tami. We bonded over our similar travels (studying abroad in South Africa anyone?) and our mid-west upbringing from a small town. She is someone who has more fun than anyone I have ever met. She lives life to the fullest and is the kind of friend you want around forever. And Eric. The first male Korean-American friend I have ever had, also the best looking, also the most charismatic and loveable. And Paul. Who stopped smoking once as a birthday gift to me and then took that gift back a week later, but since then has discovered his health and fitness and insane modeling body while in Korea (oh, crossfit) and introduced me to more history than I knew existed and knows more about America than me even though he is British. And finally, there was Kathleen. Words can’t really describe this Canadian with the biggest best smile you’ve ever seen who would become my rock during my first years in Korea. She was the glue that held us together, who made things happen. The planner. The Socialite. The girl who would eventually know every single expat in Seoul (ask me if I am exaggerating, do it).
A mixture of people so unlikely to become best friends it may blow your mind when I tell you that we were (we ARE) more than that. We are a family. The Seoul Family. It may sound cheesy, corny or as if we were trying to be clicky, superior, egotistical, whatever negative term you want to give it. But it wasn’t like that, it isn’t like that. We are so different (me probably most of all) from each other. Yet we had so much fun together, we bonded as people who are living away from their family and friends do. And as the months and then years went by we added more people to our family. And now, as the inevitable happens and people keep leaving (WHY?!)… they may be leaving Seoul, but not the family.
The original six. Eric stayed 1 year (pssshhh). Kathleen, miraculously made it 2 and a half. Tami, 3 and a half. And now… I have to say goodbye to Paul, who has made it 4 and a half years. I didn’t realize that I kept taking black and white photos, but Kathleen’s eye caught it and she put together in pictures what words cannot describe as I lose the fam jam in Seoul person by person. We are scattered all over the globe now, and I must say… I have some pretty great vacation spots. I just have to keep thinking about that as I am wiping tears from my cheeks.
Thank you Paul, for making me a better person. For teaching me more about love and tolerance and acceptance than I ever knew before and for showing me that when two good people have such different beliefs, they are still good, and can still be friends. I will miss your cooking, and our movie dates. I will miss your accent and your boldness. I will miss having random friends meet you and remind me how attractive you are (because, let’s admit it, I forget!). I will miss you. I will miss you. I will miss you.
Safe travels you attractive Englishman you.