Only because who doesn’t love that song?
But it does bring up my topic for the moment: impermanence.
Living abroad is a prime example of the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ idea. So many things can affect the duration of your stay here, as well as the manner of your departure. Now I’ve said before that I fully intend to stay as long as I possibly can ~or~ until I am good and ready to go, BUT that could be any old time.
I’ve done a year now. And while that’s nothing compared to some, it’s a hell of a lot longer than many. When will I be ready to go? Next week? Next month? Three years? When the bridge is finished being renovated? When our TEFL course finished, there were about a dozen of us who decided to take a crack at Prague. We’re now down to seven, soon to be five. People have been defeated by bureaucracy, people have gone home to significant others, grad school, decided to try other countries, left broke… you get the idea. We joke that we’re playing Prague survivor, but it’s true. It’s hard to hold onto people here.
I think that if you talk to almost anyone in the post-college phase, they’ll tell you it’s hard to meet new people. Ok, maybe they have to be really honest with themselves, but it’s true. And this is (I think) especially applicable in a new city. Also, I mean “make actual friends” not just meet new people or make bar acquaintances or something. Prague is the same as any other city, except we have a tendency to gravitate towards fellow native speakers. Or maybe that’s just how it works out. At any rate. On a given night you can talk to any number of new people, but how many of them will you attempt to see/contact again? Aside from running into each other out and exchanging niceties. What does it take to make you seek someone out to pursue a real friendship? And I know I’m pricklier than a lot of people, but it seems much more likely to gain friends through friends than “pick them up” so to speak. You know what they say, “you can’t meet someone in a bar,” and I think that extends to friends just as much as partners. But it might just be me. I’ve never been good at making friends. It takes some time to get in. And to really get to know someone. I think I’ll always be reserved, but I’ve survived this so far.
Anyway, my original point was that any of the people you meet here on a daily basis could be gone tomorrow.
“Well I’m going to stay two years, unless X, Y or Z happens.” This seems to be a common statement.
Family emergencies, deaths, new babies, bridesmaid duties, trying new countries, grad school acceptances, boyfriends, girlfriends, ex’s pleading insanity and begging forgiveness…. Some days it feels like half the people here were escaping something, but would drop everything and run home (or run somewhere) if one person were to ask them to. And by no means do I exclude myself from the escapee list.
It’s hard to think of your life as having an expiration date. You have time, but you don’t. I don’t think Prague will expire for me in a month or anything, but sometimes it breaks your heart to think you can’t see a friend you miss in the foreseeable future. Maybe it’s better to miss people. Maybe I make no sense. Maybe I think too much. Maybe I should go to bed because I have a full day of work tomorrow and oh, that’s right, I live and work in Prague. It’s not always easy but this city can hold you any day.