The World Needs More Erikas

It was a lunch with new friends, an outing I’d pushed myself to attend. Fourteen women of which I had met one. If you’re a perpetual expat it’s something you know you have to do. Put yourself out there, continue to recruit, take a deep breath and walk into a venue, a meeting, a lunch or a coffee with your friend radar on high alert.

The one person I knew was through a mutual friend, that friend being Erika. Erika was now long gone, she and her husband Andrew had left G and I here in Qatar for their next expat adventure, Nice, France. Ouch! Not only were they leaving they were breaking our hearts in the process, in a Jennifer, Brad, Angelina kind of way. Sure, our friendship and life here in Qatar was pretty bloody good (Jen), but how do you compete with Nice? (Angelina). We skyped in the beginning, us in our dustbowl of a backyard, them surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills. Us sipping on our mass-produced Australian wine that we’d paid a fortune for, them guzzling a 2 Euro bottle of something fabulous and local. A year down the track they announced they were going to Amsterdam – okay, so they’d broken up with Angelina, but just like Brad they were going to be okay. Grass greener? Surely so in Amsterdam.

Back to the lunch. So there I sat, across from the one person I’d met before. It made sense Erika was going to come up in conversation. We giggled over Erika’s ability to call a spade a spade, or in Erika’s case possibly more so a f*c*en shovel. There is only one Erika: brash, honest, passionate and strikingly conscious. The very first evening Erika and I had spent together she’d come over to the house with her husband Andrew, in between raucous conversations and bottles of wine she’d been so willing to share her faults and indiscretions, she’d laid out her soul in between giggles and stories. As a serial expat she knew how it worked, the unsaid here I am, this is me, if this makes you uncomfortable we probably won’t be friends. When we said goodnight at 4am I turned to G and said “I LOVE THEM!”.

I was crushed by her departure. I got busy, worked harder, filled my time, but I missed her terribly. And like many expats who’ve been in it for the long haul I questioned why we do this to ourselves. Why do we let ourselves get so close knowing that it’s all going to end.

Back to the lunch. As we shared our mutual Erika stories other members at the table listened in and joined in on the giggles. “Where is this Erika? Why isn’t she here?” By the next round of drinks we were toasting Erika “Here’s to Erika!” And by the end of the day our mutual friend and I gave our own knowing toast “Here’s to the Erika’s may there be more of them”.

The world needs more Erika’s. While I know there is only one Erika for me there will possibly be Kate’s and Catherine’s, Susan’s and Sonya’s, Annabelle’s and Aisha’s. And yes, while it hurts so much to say goodbye, nothing can replace the memories of what you had – what I had with Erika was rich and raw. I’m pretty sure she’d throw me an enormous eye roll with an accompanying snort if I was to quote those corny words from Dr Suess. Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.

Happy birthday gorgeous Erika.

  • http://www.atotaltaitaitale.tumblr.com/ aTotalTaiTaiTale

    I have my own Erica.
    I’ve actually had 3 in the last 19 years of expat life… only find one every other expat posting it seems 🙁 and 2 of them had an Andrew to my J 🙂
    One of them is coming to visit me from Beijing for my Birthday in a couple of weeks and I’m going to Paris the following week (because it’s half way between Singapore and Calgary!!) to celebrate the birthday (& mine too) of another one.
    To all the Erika we meet along the way

  • mary_j_j

    God I love that call a spade a spade line! I remember years ago my best mate from the bush describing my older sister as “the type of girl who’d call a spade a shovel and hit you over the head with it”. He was right, entirely. Even when you stay out for years and years, in your country of birth, Erikas are few and far between, and breathing in and facing the new crowd is hard. Cheers Kirsty xx

  • Linda Chernis

    As the sister of Erika, this made me smile.

    • Erika Robertson

      🙂

  • Tracey Siefert Van Coppenhagen

    As a friend who also misses Erika terribly this made me tear up.

    • Erika Robertson

      Schatzi. 😘

  • Erika Robertson

    It’s not over Kirsty ! Never ! We will / have to cross paths again ! Love & miss you . And thank you my friend for those words and memories . Now , tell me babe , who is this mystery mutual friend you refer to ? X

    • http://shamozal.blogspot.com Kirsty Rice 4kids20suitcases

      Christine T, we had lots of giggles. We’re going to do it again so next time I’ll take a pic and send it to you xxx

  • Marnie Hodges

    Thank you for such a beautiful tribute to expat friendship. My “Erika” is leaving soon and I’m trying to soak up all the fun and love now. I shared this post with her through my tears.
    My favourite line from your talk in Singapore, that I keep coming back to, is “Right now this sounds ridiculous because you’ve got life long friends at home, how could someone so new become so important? This is expat life.”