I’ve now been living in Austria for almost 4 years. Having a steady job, buying a house and finally feeling like I’m starting to get a slight grasp of the German language… well it’s a little bit scary.
Because it’s gotten to the point where I realise that this is somewhere I might be for a while. A few years, at the very least. The initial suitcase of clothes I brought over has been added to with various knick knacks and other belongings through each visit and each return trip home. My old bedroom in Australia is looking less and less like mine all the time.
And in facing this reality, I just want to say to my friends and family: I’m sorry I won’t be there. Because in the future, there will come a time, an event, a life occasion, a celebration, a sickness, a death… and I just won’t be able to be there.
Logistically, a 24+ hour journey to get home makes things difficult. I not only have to factor in the length of travel time, I also have think about time off work and the cost of the flight. But how can I even weight up these decisions? How can I say that the wedding of a close friend is worth the time/expense/hassle, but a funeral is not? How can I weigh up the birth of a child against a milestone birthday of one of my nearest and dearest?
So to you all: I’m sorry I wasn’t there in your time of need. I’m sorry I couldn’t pop over with a bottle of wine/tub of ice cream to provide some support. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a hug and cry with you. I’m sorry I couldn’t visit you in the hospital.
I’m sorry I missed your wedding. I would have loved to have been there. I’m sorry I couldn’t go out dancing on your birthday. I know you are disappointed and believe me, I feel the same. I’m sorry if me being thousands of miles away makes your life a little bit harder to bear. Please know that mine is too.
And I’m not only sorry for things that have passed, I’m sorry for the things that we don’t even know about yet: when you finally meet Mr Right; when you need to celebrate your job promotion; when you bring your first child home.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Just know that I would like to be there. And know that it is not always possible or practical for me to be there when I want. This is out of my hands.
I’m sorry for abandoning you.
But know that I have not forgotten you. I have not replaced our friendship with that of Austria and my husband and my new family and friends. I will continue to keep in touch. I will send you stupid pictures on your birthday instead of cards. I will try to remember what’s going on in your life and send you texts or call. And when I’m next in the country we can celebrate/commiserate on everything passed and try our best to make up for lost time.
So please forgive me when I say no. When you ask me to be there and I just cannot. Please forgive me if I attend someone else’s special event but not yours. Know that it is partly circumstances that dictate what I do and when I do it.
Know that I love you. And will – always.