What’s that saying about old and new friends? “Keep the old but…”? I can’t remember. But I do know that the end of the year is one of the hardest times for teachers in international schools. Personally, I always seem to make a new friend right before they move away. I’m not sure why this happens. In China, I became friends with Amy- we started hanging out almost every weekend for the last month she was there. She and her now husband were moving to Warsaw that next year. Unfortunately, we discovered too late that we had a lot in common and could really talk and laugh about a variety of subjects. It didn’t hurt that her then fiance and my husband were friends… but we had just never really connected before it was time for her to go.
Here in Guate, I’ve recently discovered another new friend… but she’s leaving too! She and her husband are going back to the States in like two days and I’m quite torn up about it. The hardest part is that the people who are leaving are always excited- who wouldn’t be? I was super excited to leave Shanghai and it kept me from being too sad at the friends I was leaving behind. It’s always like that- the end, if you’re staying, is sad. If you’re leaving, it’s exciting. But the good thing is that, come August, the ones who stayed behind get to be excited again with all the new people that arrive. The air is not only vibrating with the freshness of a new school year, but there are new friends to be made.
That segues me nicely into my next topic- international teachers and drinking. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it’s happening A LOT lately. End of the year parties, birthday parties, regular ol’ Friday afternoons… it seems like all we do is drink! When I first started teaching overseas, someone asked me,” So what are you running from?” I was confused and said so. He said, “We’re all running from something in this business. It’s just the nature of the beast.” And I’ve thought about that a lot. It’s probably true- if you ask anyone why they teach overseas, they’ve usually got a pretty good story. If I am being honest, I was running, though I didn’t know it at the time. When I got offered the job in the DR, I was in a bad relationship, working in a restaurant, wreaking havoc on Shannon’s life, and generally being miserable. I myself was drinking too much, sleeping too much, and not really caring what happened next. So yeah, I was running. And running lends itself to ‘forgetting’ or ‘dealing.’ And a lot of forgetting and dealing makes people drink.
I can have fun without drinking. I prefer to have fun without drinking because 1. I like remembering how much fun I was having; 2. I don’t like remembering that I said something stupid or talked too much (which I do, drunk or not); 3. I like feeling like I will make it home alive. But others, good people, people I really like and would love to spend more time with, can’t, it seems, have fun without drinking. And some of them like to drink A LOT. And I don’t particularly like to be around them when they’re that drunk- demons come out.
Which brings me to my point- it’s sometimes hard for me to make friends in this circuit because I’m not into partying and bars. I find parties where people just get hammered and fall over to be a bit boring… and I feel a bit old for it. But that’s me. I am accepting that I am 90 before my time- I like to knit, have a glass of wine or two with dinner, and be able to have conversations with people.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be friends with the people who party. I swear, I really do like them. It just seems like we don’t have that much to talk about… whether or not we’re all slurring…