Saying Goodbye...No Thank You! I'll Say Au Revoir Instead
I dislike saying goodbye, but I think it has to do with the feeling that the word feels final. It is not like the French 'au revoir' (until we meet again.) Goodbye stems from God be with you... Honestly, I would only say that to someone if they were leaving forever, for war or certainly something dramatic. If you've seen Casablanca, you'll relate to the finality of Ilse flying off. You don't believe they will meet again and it feels tragic.
As the season of saying goodbyes starts in the expat world, I would like to concentrate on the 'au revoir' ... Let's say, "here's to meeting friends for life in exotic places!" because shouldn't that be part of the fun. As Rick would say to Ilse, "We'll always have Paris." And it doesn't have to stop there....
I have met my fair share of friends over the years and in the strangest places. One of my favorite stories is of Sam. She had her child in the same nursery, and I was the newbie in town. I like clothes, and so does Sam. I also am a big believer in letting kids express their personality. Going to school as Peter Pan or Davie Boone was just normal for me.
In comes Sam looking for the mom who lets her child dress in such a way. Her son had given reports of this bold little boy.
She found me and her first words to me were a very long drawled out, "Darling, I must meet the woman who lets her child come dressed as Peter Pan." Followed by a, "Oh my, you look better than I do today, those shoes, those jeans and with a white tee-shirt....you look stunning."
I must admit these are great terms to start a beautiful friendship. Who doesn't like a compliment? I know I love them. The best part... this amazing woman showed up the next day with even more spangly shoes than mine and a 'mind-boggling' outfit. She slapped her foot up on the bench and said, "I don't like being outdone. Coffee?" We roared with laughter, and the words from Casablanca played out in my mind, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" and it was.
I have friends like this in each country. Meeting on the rocks of the lake, in the playground of the Jardin Public, at a student party or at work these gems have followed me as I have followed them.
Thank you, Facebook and social media for making this easier. I cherish my friends; I don't say goodbye anymore... I say au revoir, and then I enjoy the journey. Meeting new friends along the way should be cherished. This weekend old friends are coming...I can't wait and boy oh boy will we have stories to share. Here's to friends and to au revoir's all over the world!
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife