As part of my minimalism kick, over the last year or so I have been going through what few mementos I still had. Most of my keepsakes burned up in a storage unit fire in the year 1999 - lost everything from my childhood and the military and family (very liberating in a way). But I still had stuff that I carried with me.
And it made me realize that over the years I had done a terrible job of keeping in touch with people that were both good friends and that I really care about. Now when I left the military and the United States in 1991, I really never missed most of the people I left there (except for my ex-wife, son , and a couple named Bill & Linda). But when I lived in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, my initial years in the Philippines, even my brief exile back in North America, I met some people that I would count as some of my best friends in the world.
And yet somehow, over the years, as I moved from country to country, I lost touch with them. And I really regret that.
In the 1990s email was still not the most common of ways in which to keep in touch with somebody. I know, because part of my mementos were all the letters and postcards that I used to send my close friends. Staying in touch by phone was still very common, and very expensive. There were no free texting apps in those days like Viber or WhatsApp.
And yes it's true, I was busy working, and then, after my initial retirement(my false retirement ... somewhat like the Phony War prior to WWII :-)), I dipped into a black pit of despair because of my health, but still, I regret enormously that I lost touch with many of the these people. And I feel that none of these are good reasons for having done so.
And recently as I went through all of these old letters and photos (I didn't throw them away, I was scanning them into my laptop so that I could see them more easily and be able to always carry them with me) it engendered in me a desire to try to find some of these people again.
This is where I found out that social media, for people of my generation (I am either a very late baby boomer or one of the very first of the Gen-Xers), is not as prevalent as it is for later generations. And it was further complicated because some of the people that I knew, English was not their first language, and I was having to refresh my rusty French, Turkish, or nonexistent Japanese or Chinese, in order to search for them.
However, nonetheless, I have been making the effort. And I have gotten in touch with a few of the people that I used to know that I was close to. Now ... it's difficult… It is kind of hard I think when somebody comes out of the blue from your past and makes contact. I think one sometimes doesn't really know what to say. But I am glad that I'm making the effort. If I even am able to reconnect with just one or two of my old friends it will definitely be what I consider to be a worthwhile effort.
I guess the point I'm trying to make in this somewhat rambling post, is that good friends are not such a common thing that one should let go of them easily, regardless of what excuses one may make. It is really worth taking the time and effort to stay in touch with the people that you care about.
It is true, without doubt, that being a serial expatriate, and / or a TCK, can make it difficult. But I am happy to say that it certainly seems with social media and the ubiquitous Internet that it is much more difficult to fall out of touch than it used to be and I am glad for that. Friends are what make so many things in my life worthwhile.