As each season comes to a close, I inevitably reflect upon those who have passed through my life during that time. Though everyone has experienced the highs of meeting a new friend and lows of losing touch with an old pal – my current lifestyle as a professional athlete makes this turnover much higher.
For the past 7 years, I haven’t really had a ‘home base.’ Of course Vancouver will always be home, but each offseason I find myself spending more and more time in Seattle and traveling the U.S. to catch up with good friends. It’s tough, as most of my best friends live south of the border – in a country that makes it very difficult for me to work there legally.
Friendships are extremely important to me. I love meeting new people and developing relationships with those I find interesting and fun to be around. I think the most difficult thing about living abroad - or even living in Vancouver, is not being able to spend enough quality time with those I hold closest to me. As each year passes and friends start to dive into their respected careers, relocate to different cities or start thinking about marriage, it’s a reality check. I’m reminded that I no longer live in the comfortable college bubble - the place where everyone promises to live in the same city and continue to be best friends after graduation. Looking back, I can’t believe how naïve we were – but we had real hope that these plans would become reality.
Though I’m fortunate many of my close pals live a short 2.5 hour drive down the I-5, I miss them. What’s especially tough is not seeing those that now live in New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Australia and Argentina. I’m lucky if I get to visit them once a year, as chatting over skype is not nearly the same as meeting up for coffee or catching up over lunch. I of course also make things complicated when spending 8 months of the year in Europe, but we all have to adjust, making new friends along the way. The most interesting thing about being so far from home is that you really find out who those closest to you are – they’re the ones who make the effort to stay in contact and check in to see how you’re doing…
Nevertheless, this is the lifestyle I’ve chosen to live right now. Even though it’s difficult staying in touch with those at ‘home’ it’s just as difficult developing relationships with the people I meet abroad. It’s like there’s an expiration date on our friendship. Going into it, we both know it’ll likely last 8 months, then slowly dissipate once I return home. Of course when its time to say goodbye, there’s always the promise to keep in touch and meet up in the near future. But frankly, the chances of this happening are slim to none. Saying so is much easier than doing so. For example, the people I was very close with in Portugal last season, I now rarely speak to. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that we’ve gone our separate ways and are living our lives in different parts of North America. Likewise, I hear very little (aside from 1 person) from those I spent time with in Finland and Sweden. As time passes, sadly, some friendships meet their end.
I’m no relationship expert, but it takes two people to keep one alive. Whether through text messages, phone calls, emails, planned rendez-vous, etc – both people have to make the effort. I consider myself a good friend, so when I lose touch with someone I was once close with, it sucks. Yet, I understand this is the circle of life (haha). Friendships come and go and you realize that the strongest ones are the ones that weather the storm and never waver.
Which brings us to goodbyes. Goodbyes are never fun, especially when saying them to the people who have left a mark on your life. I must admit, I’m an emotional person and though I’m ecstatic to be flying home to Vancouver Tuesday, I’m saddened to say goodbye to those who made my time in Luxembourg memorable. With tear ducts on the verge of overflowing as I finish up this post – here’s to “see you soon” and not “goodbye.”
Thank you to everyone in Luxembourg who has been so welcoming and kept me busy off the basketball court. Forever in my heart...
Basketball Update: Last weekend my team lost the opening game of the league finals to Musel Pikes. We played a turnover prone, uninspired first half that put us in a huge hole going into halftime. Though down 20 at one point, we’re able to close the gap to 10 points with 5 minutes left. However, that would be the closest we would get. Unfortunately I sprained my right ankle for the 3rd time this season in the last 3 minutes of the game. I’ve been off it all week, but it’s still swollen and sore. Nevertheless, I have to suck it up, as game 2 is tomorrow – win or go home. Game 3, if need be is Sunday the 6th. Wish us luck!
Sidenote: Visit next week for my annual end of the year pros/cons post about my 3rd season overseas!