I have two friends who will be leaving Copenhagen in the next week or so and I find myself very sad. I have been in Copenhagen two years but my friendship with each of them is shorter. I have known them both from almost the beginning however it is more recently that I have come to know them to the point that I will feel a space where they used to be.
It seems that I am constantly thinking about what it is to be an expat now that I will be writing about it for my research project. This idea of what it is to be an expat is what drew me towards the course I am now doing. When I look at the faces of the women who make up my community, I see all kinds of different faces who have all lived different lives but share a common experience. Many of us will never see one another again and it is this aspect that is sometimes the hardest to bare.
This morning I walked towards my favourite bookstore here in Copenhagen and at the window I saw two faces talking with a laptop screen between them. A scene that I have seen countless times. I should have taken out my camera to capture it. This little space, in this particular window, has been a meeting place where stories have been shared, where laughs have been plenty and coffee has flowed freely. This space has frequently been filled with colour, with wit, with personality and I will miss her.
I have been an expat for eleven years and it is assumed that I have much experience with loss of this kind. I don’t. A friend in NJ once floated the idea that her family would like to move to the West Coast of the US. She was firmly put in her place by yours truly and told, No. She couldn’t leave because that was my role. I leave, you stay.
Since I have been in Copenhagen there have been more people who have left me than ever before. This is what Copenhagen has taught me, how to let people go. At first it was easier, perhaps because the experience was novel. It’s getting harder.
We often complain about the weather here and it’s true, it can be harsh. What makes Copenhagen beautiful though is the people I have met here. While the weather is often cold (even when it’s warm) the people who colour my life have been like the blankets that hang over the chairs at the cafes. I have been able to walk by, pick one up and cloak myself in their warmth.
While I have been writing this I have wondered when I would post it knowing that it would be read by both of you. At least one of you will not thank me. I won’t be able to say any of this to either of you and yet it is very important that you take it with you. It is important that you know that a space will be left here with your name on it and those who love you will notice it. You have both bought much joy, laughter and opinions into our little community and they will be missed.
As someone who has many years experience as ‘the one who leaves’, I know you will both be fine. Each move is a glorious chapter and, even though the end of that chapter feels like you have been severed in half, there is hope for the next chapter. You will be in it and it was your personality, your confidence, your ability, your presence that made this chapter so much fun to be part of.
Best wishes … and I hope we meet again.