Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Au Revoir, the Queen

16 Comments

The Queen goes home tomorrow.

The worst thing about being an expat is the goodbyes. Our lives are full of tear-filled, horrible, sad goodbyes. We have hellos too – joyous, thrilling ones – but the goodbyes hurt like hell. The hardest kind are ones like tomorrow’s, when we don’t know when we’ll see each other again. It’s easier to say goodbye when there’s a plan, a new hello to look forward to.

So I’m filling up my week in order to fill up the hole that she leaves – seeing friends, having expeditions, arranging playdates, finding new work – so that I don’t notice how much it hurts.

After 11 years, this is the one thing you don’t get used to.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

16 thoughts on “Au Revoir, the Queen

  1. My husband and his parents have been doing this for over twenty years, and it is still hard for them (especially my mother-in-law, who starts crying approximately three days before departure).

    Big hugs to you and your family!

  2. Gosh, just reading your post started my tear ducks (is that what they are called) to fill, my heart rate to increase… oh, Charlotte and Toni, I feel for both of you. How the weeks must have flown by.

  3. My family is only 2 hours away by plane, 18 by car. We see each other at least four times a year…it’s still not enough. I can’t even imagine.

  4. I know what you mean, Charlotte.

    Enjoy every minute that is left!

  5. Oh Charlotte, I know exactly how you feel. It is so, so hard to say goodbye time and time again. Sending you loads of expat hugs.

  6. It’s funny how the expat lifestyle comes so easily but the goodbyes never do…. There is something distinctly odd about being thirty hours (by plane) away from home.

    Greetings from Berlin….

  7. Easier said than done perhaps, but make a plan as quickly as possible! Or at least get some ideas together towards it, so that there’s not quite such a gaping hole.

    I know this is obvious advice, but sincerely meant.

  8. I’m with you on the horrible goodbyes. I’m not quite as far away from my family as you are from yours, but it’s still hard for us to afford traveling anywhere.

    This year will be the first in many years where we are home for all of the holidays without any family. I’m looking forward to starting some of our own traditions with the kids, but I’d prefer to have some grandparents here as well.

  9. Such goodbyes between distant friends and relatives often make me think of the past centuries, when traveling from La Rochelle to Paris was ten times more expensive than a first-class London-Sydney ticket, and the trip ten times longer. These people, although living in the same country, must have felt like expats on another planet.

  10. Fare thee well Queenie! Thou shalt grace us with thy presence again soon! (I just know it.)

  11. I hate goodbyes too. What inevitably happens when I say goodbye to my family is that we’ll either all be resolutely and forcedly cheerful, which somehow makes things worse, or one of us will crack then we’ll all burst into tears. When I said goodbye to them at Manchester airport last year, I was the one who cracked, then of course we all burst into tears, and I was so embarrassed because the airport staff took me to the top of the security queue so everyone saw. Then an hour later, a total stranger came up to me (when I had stopped crying) and said: “There now, see, everything’s going to be OK!” That almost set me off again. It’s awful, isn’t it? But the time will fly until you see each other again. The last time I saw my family we didn’t have a plan – and we’re seeing each other again next month!

  12. I hate goodbyes too. What inevitably happens when I say goodbye to my family is that we’ll either all be resolutely and forcedly cheerful, which somehow makes things worse, or one of us will crack then we’ll all burst into tears. When I said goodbye to them at Manchester airport last year, I was the one who cracked, then of course we all burst into tears, and I was so embarrassed because the airport staff took me to the top of the security queue so everyone saw. Then an hour later, a total stranger came up to me (when I had stopped crying) and said: “There now, see, everything’s going to be OK!” That almost set me off again. It’s awful, isn’t it? But the time will fly until you see each other again. The last time I saw my family we didn’t have a plan – and we’re seeing each other again next month!

  13. Oh how true. Being here is fab. Being there is fab. It’s the goodbyes in the middle that are ghastly. I remember the first time I left SA to come to London, allegedly for 9 months only (ha ha!), I started crying when I checked in at Johannesburg (had said goodbye to the family in PE earlier that morning). I called my mom from the passport queue and cried on the phone to her all the way until I boarded. Thinking back now, all I was doing was making it worse for both of us, but at the time it was all I could think of to do. When (later in 2000) she and my dad came on their last visit to London before she passed away, I remember being fine until the day they left. And then at the start of the 2 hour train trip to Heathrow with them, the fact of their departure hit me and I started crying and could not stop. I had fellow-passengers staring at my tear-streaked face for 2 hours, with nowhere to hide and no way to stop. It was awful.

    The only plus side is that we say such elaborate goodbyes. If anything were to happen to any of us (God forbid) while apart, the last things we said to each other will almost definitely be “I love you” or “I miss you”. It would never be like having a fight with your brother and then he gets killed in a car accident and you never got to make up. We make sure that our goodbyes are properly done…

    But you are right – it actually never gets any easier. The day I flew back here from a visit to SA in June, I stood in the shower and realised that I wouldn’t be seeing my 6 month old nephew’s smiling face every morning anymore and that when I got back he would be a different person – and there I was, weeping inconsolably in the shower. It just never stops!

  14. Oh, all you lucky people! To love your families so much, to get along so well that when you part you are sad rather than relieved.

    I would love to “know how you feel.” My experience has always been one of great anticipation when going to visit. “Ah, I DO love these people. It will be so good to see them.” By the time it is time to say goodbye, it is usually with relief. There have been times when I actually left the House of Bedlam early. But our family dynamics are, well, shall we say “Interesting,” and leave it at that?

    You should count your blessings, dear ones. And remember, nowadays you can talk to them every day, email, chat online with cameras. Back even 50 years ago, that was a distant scifi dream. Still electronic communication does not allow the long, deep, warm hugs, the sharing of wonderful food and wine.

    Hugs, Charlotte. Tomorrow, when I post the last of my series on “How we met” you might get an inkling of why I have a very “careful” relationship with my family.

  15. Pingback: Thanks « Charlotte’s Web

  16. Will be thinking of you tomorrow Charlotte. I know how hard it is – believe it or not, my husband lived in the UK for nearly 3 years and we had our fair share of traumatic airport goodbyes. It is just dreadful!

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