Living as an expat makes relationships with the people you meet so much more intense. When you've lived in a suburb, a city, a country for many years you have a whole network of people to rely on. You can take your time getting to know new people and let relationships grow at a slow and steady pace. When you suddenly find yourself in a new city, a new country and a new hemispherse, that network is non-existent and bonds have to be made quickly and made strong.
On the first day of school, I had to fill in some forms. I reached the 'in case of emergency' section and they were after someone else other than me or Skip, I had to leave the line empty because I didn't know a single soul. Not one single soul.
As time goes on, school mums have to become more than people you have coffee with after drop-offs and work colleagues more than someone you catch up with for a drink on a Friday night. They become confidants. They become people you share holidays and milestones with. They are the ones who understand the frustrations, the loneliness, the excitement and everything else in a new land. They become your 'in case of emergency' people.
At a recent birthday party, a friend looked at the kids wistfully and said: "I hate these kids birthday parties, not because of the noise or the chaos, but because these kids weren't here last year and most won't be here next year. My kids have parties filled with people who they won't even remember in a year or two. It's just sad."
I'm a little more optimistic and hope that at least some of the people who we are forming these bonds with we'll know for a lifetime. The bonds must be made quickly but they will be long-lasting.
Seven months on and I have someone on the 'in case of emergency' line. I have someone I trust to leave my kids with if I need to be rushed to hospital. I have people who I could call at 2am in an emergency. It feels funny that I didn't know these people even walked the planet six months ago and that suddenly they are filling the places of family and long-term friends. That's the reality of being an expat.