I am thinking of many people, today. I am thinking of my friend Paola, who flew from Ghana to London for the marriage of her daughter. Paola was not there during the whole preparation – nor was she there to go through the jolly pre-marriage period with her grandchildren. I am also thinking of Guia and Marco, who are flying from Jerusalem to England, to celebrate their daughter’s university degree. She concludes a three years period of studying, living, and coping far from her parents, who have to take a plane and go through the hated security procedures at Ben Gurion airport to be with her.
My mind is also on my children. Mattia has successfully completed his first year at the university in England, and will join us for a short holiday in Japan before going to Jerusalem, where part of his roots are, and then join us in Italy for the summer holidays. He, too, had to study, live and cope on his own this past year. As he will the next. While me and my husband will be hanging on to Facebook and Skype to be close to him in good and bad times.
Of course the moments when expat parents and expat children get together are full of happiness like no other moment. It is hard to explain the anticipation and the intensity they entail.
Yet I sometimes try to imagine a different life, a life like some of my friends have, where parents and children live in the same city, or in the same country, and see each other often even when the children go and live on their own. I try to picture how it would be if I knew that I can see Mattia and Alessandro every two Sundays, or know that should anything at all happen, the distance between a phone call and my children could be covered in an hour. Maybe less. How would it be if my children’s university were five tube’s stops from my home? How would I feel knowing that one day – any day – one of them might surprise me with a last minute call and take me to the movie?
I have no idea. I guess it would feel good, and sometimes I hate the distance. I hate missing precious days with them, I hate having to rely always on the Internet to talk to them, and I hate waking up in the middle of the night and worry because I felt they were sad when we last Skyped.
But then I cheer up and think that feeling close has nothing to do with geography. And that those parents who see their children constantly will never experience what I am feeling now, barely able to sit quiet in my chair in the Jakarta airport, because I know that in a few hours I’ll see Mattia walking towards me at the arrivals in Narita, and I can’t wait.