This has both nothing and everything to do with the expat experience. The power of my female friendships, after being her a little over a year, are comforting, rewarding and invaluable.
Last year, around this time, I realized that I was surrounded by men. By nature of surfing being my main and sometimes only social activity, especially during lock down, a lot of my friends were male.
I felt a sense of being untethered. I lacked an anchor that was female friendship. So, I set out to get some girlfriends and found the most amazing women.
One of the beauties of the expat experience is that you can be thrown in with people of all ages. Add surfing, a sport that I would be on the upper end in age, and I interacted with the most amazing women in their twenties and thirties. I watch them as they strike out into the world with such confidence – on the outside. Inside, they have the same insecurities that I had when I was there age. The same fears that I still have.
I say to them, “You are amazing! If you only knew how wonderful you are!”
If they only knew, they would:
- Fight harder and not be so humble about their worth in the next salary negotiations.
- Tell the next guy that is treating them like they are insignificant, that he has come to the wrong place.
- Go closer to the peak of the surf break because they are just as skilled and gutsy as anyone there.
- Be more at peace.
Kate leaves this weekend to go back to the UK. The only reason that I am not in tears is because she is coming back (and she is lending me her surf board while she is gone ; ) Her heart is in Barbados and she is working to make this her home. However, for the time being, her office is calling her to return to London.
Monday after an outdoor evening yoga class, Tiffany’s car battery was dead, and the car wouldn’t start. Kate stayed with me while I waited for roadside assistance. Later she sends me this text:
It’s wonderful to know that when you break down in life, you have friends that will be right there. This moment made me grateful for that.
Kate wasn’t even the one that broke down! It is only in being a friend that we practice how it is done. It is in supporting others that we learn how to let others support us. I have learned so much through these friendships.
Lorena continues to be a rock for me here. We have been discussing upcoming travel plans. Her and her family have been gone from South Africa for two years after packing up and practically disappearing overnight. She needs to go home and sort out administration like renewing passports and driver’s licenses. I can’t even imagine being here without them and so am also planning to leave the island for a while come May.
Things are changing again. Those closest to me are coming and going. I should feel like my foundation is shifting as well, but oddly I do not. There is comfort in knowing that I have friends like Erin and Jen, who have made Barbados their home and will always be here. There is peace in knowing that the girlfriends that I have made here will come back and we will pick up exactly where we left off. I am anchored.
What anchors you?