I’ve had the very good fortune throughout my life to always have a close-knit group of friends surrounding me. I’ll admit that before I actually moved out here to Myanmar my biggest fear was that I’d end up working and living with a group of people that I got along with, but that I didn’t really click with socially. I was afraid that my days would be spent sitting in my apartment or out exploring alone. With a staff only a few dozen, there’s just no guarantee that there’ll be people with your interests or hobbies, and that could really have made this whole experience a drag.
Of course, and thankfully, that’s been far from the case. Not only do I get along with everyone I work with, but almost every day something social is going on. Mondays and Wednesdays are volleyball with 11-16 other people, including a cool group of folks that don’t work at my school. Tuesdays are basketball, where we normally pull in 10. We pepper in ultimate frisbee once in awhile when the field isn’t underwater from rain. There are always groups grabbing food or hitting happy hour together. Bar trivia is fun even though I’ve tied for last every single time. [Update- We tied for third this month. PROGRESS] Earlier in the year we got together weekly to watch Game of Thrones, and we’ve since watched The OA and Ozark. A few weeks ago I headed to Thailand and Cambodia for a five day weekend with four other teachers. Being that we all live in an apartment complex only for teachers, it really is like the dorms all over again. Anytime you’re bored, shout down the hall and someone will answer.
It’s great, but it’s also an incredibly strange dynamic that I’ve never experienced before.
The thing is, all of these friendships have expiration dates. Some people are ending their contracts after this school year, and after early June they’ll be in another part of the world. Some, like me, will be around another year, after which the same thing will happen. In all likelihood, after this point I’ll never see the people I’ve grown close too again, and I already know exactly when it’ll happen. Of course there have been plenty of times when I knew my friends and I would be going separate ways before- high school and college being the obvious examples- but there’s always the promise of future get-togethers. I still run into my buddies from high school and college from time to time, and in each instance, though we may not know when our paths will cross next, we don’t really worry that goodbye will be forever.
The obvious retort is that we’ll stay in touch via Facebook, which is true, but that’s not really the same. We all have that chunk of our friends list composed of people we used to know but largely forget about until their name pops up on their birthday, not because they weren’t or aren’t important to us, but because that’s just life when time moves on. Unfortunately, absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. It’s how things go.
I don’t really have a big closing message or larger point to this post, it’s just a weird feeling that I’ve been having. I’m already looking at every fun night and inside joke through the windshield and rear-view mirror at the same time, simultaneously smitten with the social environment I’ve found myself in and already grasping at its impalpability.
Andy Bernard once quipped, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Well, I’m here, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.