My tribe


A sign I spied in a local coffee and cake shop got me thinking about the meaning ‘family’.

I’ve lived the life of an expat for more than 13 years now. It’s a transient existence, and has afforded me the opportunity to meet amazing people from literally all over. But, seeing those nearest and dearest to me on a frequent or even regular basis is, thus, not entirely possible nor realistic.

I was reminded yet again of how truly fortunate I am to be surrounded both virtually and in everyday reality by an amazing collection of not just good people but good friends. Weeks, months and at times years may separate one gathering from the next. It doesn’t seem to matter much in terms of those who are my ‘family’—that special category of individual who represents more than a mere ‘friend’, but someone to share the good, the bad, the mundane and everything in between. They call me on my bullshit, and revel in my successes. They provide that extra bit of a push when I really need it to make a goal or get over a ‘hump’, and they’ll either sit and cry with me or provide the endless stream of tissues when things are just entirely too much to bear.

It was whilst having something as simple as a cupcake at the end of a rather tedious week that I spied a simple sign in a shop. What made it all the more poignant was the company I was in at the time. It nearly brought me to tears thinking about all those amazing people in my tribe (including those at my table at the time) and how much they mean to me. It wasn’t a sense of sadness, but a feeling of overwhelming joy and humility. I’d never have imagined ever being so lucky as to have friends like all those incredible individuals in my virtual tribe who are my family.

Anyone who knows my husband and I knows it hasn’t been the best of times this past year and a half or so. There have been flashes of bliss (e.g., our wedding a little over a year ago was a particularly bright spot in an otherwise crap year). But, still, the uncertainty we occupy in our never-ending immigration woes has certainly been of primary importance and, at times, taken over every aspect of our existence. Throughout this process, though, the outpouring of concern, brainstorming for ideas on ‘what next’, and the continual stream of positive thoughts and reinforcements have lifted our spirits immeasurably. And, that to us is what ‘family’ is all about.

Our country of residence may change; our postal address may need editing a few more times; and, the general backdrop of life will shift and be altered as well. Not distance nor time nor elevator music will diminish the love we feel for those in our tribe. And, that is precisely what family means to us.

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