Inner Onion Layers

A few years ago, I left a conversation I was having with a close friend feeling a little put out. I noticed a flicker of frustration cross her face as we were talking and inside I knew what I had just done.

As a TCK, moving from one city to another, I developed the ability to make friends quickly. Because of the transitory nature of our lives, we did not have the luxury that time offered typical friendships to evolve and grow organically. Never knowing how long someone would be around before leaving for another city was like having a proverbial friendship Expiry Date Elephant following us from room to room. Goodbyes became harder each time and eventually, I would hold these whirlwind friendships at arm’s length in an attempt to lessen the blow. It was an unspoken understanding between us.

Make no mistake, these were not fake friendships to help the time pass. These friendships grew deep roots, fertilized by the urgency of time and flourishing at such a rate that you couldn’t help but guard yourself against their impending expirations.

This particular friendship, however, was not quite like what I’ve just described. Although we became friends quickly, the Expiry Date Elephant was non-existent as I was ‘home’ with no plans to relocate in the foreseeable future. Yet my arm, out of habit, was ready and in place to ensure a safe and comfortable distance was maintained. To someone who had the luxury of time and grew up making friends with the expectation that friendships will continue to grow closer as the years move on, my guardedness during unexpected moments after many years of friendship, became frustrating.

It took me a while to get used to the idea of being in one place for an extended amount of time and that I would not have to say goodbye to others so quickly. It has also been tough trying to anticipate my retreat before it happens. Although I’m not quite there yet (especially as I have just moved to another city after 13 years in Perth and had to say goodbye to many) I am better now at letting people into the inner layers of the onion that is me.

This article was first published on 15 April 2017