All Good Things Come To An End
Living as an expat in Tokyo or Seoul or Prague (or anywhere), you come to learn certain things. You figure out what ingredient to substitute to make one of your favorite dishes taste right (almost). You learn to navigate your new surroundings. You begin to understand how to communicate in another's language. You also learn that people come into and out of your life. Because of this, many expats harden their hearts and do not allow themselves to get truly close to many people.
When you first become an expat, you scramble to find friends. At first, almost anyone will do. If they speak your language, they have pretty much passed the friendship test. But, if you actually invest in those quickly formed unions, you can discover that those "fauxships" can actually turn out to be much, much more. In fact, what can seem like a convenient friend group can mutate into a surrogate family.
When my wife and I arrived in Asia five years ago, we quickly latched on to Manon and Jeff Harrison. As couple who had already been in Seoul a year, Manon and Jeff were kind enough to give us advice about Korea and to invite us into their home. Year after year, friends were made and friends left Seoul. Yet, Manon and Jeff remained.
Our bond grew closer and as I realized that people come and go, I began to realize that (metaphorically) people come and stay. In this sense, we had found real friends, not just ones of convenience due to location or language similarities. We had found friends who we could confide in and count on. We found friends that we could have a fight with and then work through it, instead of abandoning the bond. We found forever friends.
Yet, inevitably, one of the expat truths revealed itself again. It came time for the Harrison family to leave Korea to pursue their next adventure. I was an incredibly lucky photographer to have one last chance to work for some of the best friends (and clients) that I have ever had. What a bitter sweet family portrait session it was.
Best of luck to you Jeff, Manon and Kieran! Japan is lucky to have you. I, will miss you!