I have always been very vocal about having a tribe and a community. I have always had girl friends, through work and even after becoming a parent. Not a big bunch, but enough to keep me happy. The first six months were hard when I moved to Beijing, China, but life got so much easier after I started meeting people. Some were long-time expats in the city, and some were just like me, a new arrival. I suddenly found it very easy to make friends because expats are in the same boat and usually don’t live in a place long enough to drag the friend-making process out. So making friends is fast and furious, just like your good-time speed dating.
It’s easy really, you a parent? You have somewhat similar parenting philosophies? Are your kids the same age? Do you have the same interests and passions? You both speak English? Boom! You got a friend in me. So easy so when someone says, “Let me scan your QR code,” you’ve got another person you can chat with and get close to, especially when you’re experiencing your China Days.
Now through some kind of weird quality, I did not know I had I started to know many people. And what do you do when you get to know so many people? You “share” them, and thus, you create a community! For the heck of it, I created a community called Beijing Mothers Guild. We organized small dinners, gathering women who did not know each other at restaurants around town. At the end of the night, they come out with new friends!
Girl friends are the best! I know have a husband but there is nothing like having a good chat with one of your girl friends. Hosting events that created a space for women to get to know new people and make friends is one of my strongest points and life passions. I think that’s why it has been such a hard year in the British countryside; in just one year in China, I had more friends to count on my hands and feet. In one year in Fleet and I have just one friend—one very good girl friend who listens to my crazy Beijing stories and encourages me in my wild ideas. But I can’t create a community with two and that hurts and cuts into my heart. This year has prepared me for social distancing on another level, as I don’t know anybody to social distance from.
I am lucky as we all go digital now and I can be with my girlfriends all over the world. But honestly, I can’t wait to move away from this place to a country where I am a true expat, where we make friends fast and furious. I might even take my one girl friend from Fleet with me when the time comes!