It’s Our Form, It’s Our Function

I am so not meant to be here today. It’s 10am and I have approximately 24 hours to hand in 1000 words; a critical reflection on four pieces of work. In between now and then is a lunch, and a fifth grade basketball tournament. I have a feeling I have a date with 3am, a text book, and my laptop.

Yesterday I received the news I was expecting yet dreading. More friends are leaving. G and I are now joking that we will return from the summer and be the only ones here. We appear to be in the middle of a mass exodus. I feel like the evacuation sirens are blaring and we’re the ones sitting with noise cancelling headphones on. We stood at the bathroom sink together brushing our teeth before heading out last night.

“You know they’re all going to leave, every single one of them.” I looked in the mirror to see the remains of my mascara. As I’d typed the text ‘so happy for you guys’ the tears had fallen.

“And that’s okay” G had the voice, the voice of reason. “We’ll go home for the summer, catch up with friends and family, stay at the beach and think about how lucky we are. And then we’ll come back to start the school year and they’ll be a bunch of new people in town and we’ll make new friends. We’ll be fine.”

I didn’t want new friends. I wanted my old friends. I spat out my tooth paste, ran my finger under my eyelid to tidy up the damage and exited the bathroom before he could notice the next lot of tears.

One of my favourite story tellers is David Rakoff. He passed away a couple of years ago, I felt wounded by his death. It seemed unfathomable to imagine a world without new David Rakoff stories, I now cherish the old ones. The cleverest in my mind is The Scorpion and The Turtoise, a story of friends but not friends. You need 10 minutes to listen to David read this, but please, it’s beautiful.

I read and forget words every day, I couldn’t tell you what I wrote last week or a piece of text from a book I love but the fable of The Scorpion and The Turtoise, it’s stayed. The people we let into our lives when we know there’s the possibility of  getting stung. For an expat there’s always going to be a sting, not through bitterness or betrayal. The sting is the goodbye. My form is my function – and the form and function of the expat is that you will eventually move on. So we make ourselves open while knowing full well, it’s essentially saying “please, come pierce my shell.”

“Is there some lesson on how to be friends?
I think what it means is that central to living
a life that is good is a life that’s forgiving.
We’re creatures of contact regardless of whether
we kiss or we wound. Still, we must come together.
Though it may spell destruction, we still ask for more–
since it beats staying dry but so lonely on shore.
So we make ourselves open while knowing full well
it’s essentially saying “please, come pierce my shell.”
― David Rakoff

My shell feels a little pierced today, experience has taught me it will heel, maybe not fully, they’ll be scarring but it will heel.  We’ll swim on, cherish what we’ve had and plan the next re-union.

It’s our form, it’s our function.

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