Life as an expat can be trying, in spite of its seeming glamourousness. One of the most difficult things I’ve noticed across the board is how hard it is to integrate with the locals of pretty much anywhere. What you find out is that especially in a place like Prague, with a great deal of expat ebb and flow, the natives are not so interested in inviting you into their lives. And realistically, why should they? They’ve got their group of friends, their family; in their minds their life is complete and why waste time with someone who’ll leave shortly? The only locals that seem to be a bit more open are ones who’ve spent time abroad as expats themselves. But depending on where you live, they can be just as hard to come by. I am lucky to say that through wonderful series of events, I’ve indeed made some wonderful Czech friends and they enrich my experience of this strange place in a multitude of ways. However, they are in no way the majority of people I know here or hang out with.
For someone like me who craves connecting with people, I will find a way to connect most anywhere. However, sometimes these connections ended up being more painful than anything else because eventually either I or they would leave the place, and saying goodbye simply sucks. I tend to invest a great deal in new people I meet that I feel connected to in some way, and often this has lead to many of Sezin’s tears and disappointment.
Recently, I’ve made some really great connections with people. You know, that great kind that will hopefully lead to long-term friendships. However, many of them will be leaving Prague in the short to medium term. I noticed something interesting the other day, which was that now that my husband and I are finally in a daily state of marital bliss, I am not so hesitant to hold onto these connections and in fact I enjoy my time with them so much more. When I was single, going home to an empty apartment sucked even more than saying goodbye to new friends. But now, I’m a part of a unit that will remain no matter what, and so I’m free to make these nice friendships, but I don’t have to feel sad when they’ll end because I already have a wonderful someone at home with me who’s not going anywhere.
It is such a relief to, for once, not be so attached to transitory beings and I can watch them come in and out of my life without a broken heart on account of their (or my) inevitable departure. It’s also really nice to just be in the moment with new friends. Enjoy each other’s company, share ourselves, learn, grow and not have that desperate need to hold onto them to forsake my own loneliness. I can give the people in my life room to do their own things, and I don’t feel pressured to spend every moment together like I have in the past. It’s like I have new breathing room that I never allowed myself before.
The best part is that if for whatever reason or natural course of events leads to the total dissolution of the friendship, I am nowhere near as devastated as I once would have been. In fact, I find myself actively cleaning out relationships that have no future or turn out to be toxic. And now, with this newfound recognition that I need not get so attached to these lovely connections from the beginning, the entire course of the friendship is much easier for me deal with, and especially if it’s a connection with an inevitable spiritual or physical endpoint. This is such a step forward for me, the girl who never lets go of anything, even when it causes recurring pain.
Marriage has brought me so many good things, but this new ability to let people go and be in the moment is probably one of the best gifts I’ve received so far. I wonder how many more ways my coupling will change me for the better.