Leaving friends behind

Too many friends to count
Too many friends to count

Recently I’ve been getting ready for my move and doing irreverent things like going to Centre Parcs.  My flat is still full of too much stuff but at least I’ve cancelled my phone and internet contracts now.  Spending time recently with so many people has made me realise how much I’m leaving friends behind.  And I’ve still got a few more friends to see before I go so I’m making the most of every minute of it.

The Centre Parcs I went to was in Woburn Forest.  The place was new, only built the previous year, so everything looked weirdly perfect, like a kind of socialist utopia.  It was the kind of place where everyone was middle class and greeted you as you walked past – clearly they were taking their frustrations out domestically.

Centre Parcs

I went there with Internet friends, because all the best people are on the Internet these days.  I think there were about 30 of us in total and we mostly got drunk and played traditional team-building games like Cards Against Humanity and Ring of Fire.  At Central Command we were given our Magicians’ Bangles.  They didn’t have keys there – they had magic bangles that wirelessly opened your log cabin door.  Truly, it was like living in the future.

Most of the people I had met before – one of my friends had now grown a magnificent beard.  At first I didn’t recognise him, thinking it was Aslan.  Radiating from his chin was a lion’s mane, fiercely defending the virtues of liberty and loyalty with its every strand.  Its triumphant glow seemed to enflame the entire room, lighting it with a warm spirit of camaraderie, like a gentle fireplace burning softly in a room of sturdy oak tables and rich mahogany high back chairs.  It was very inspiring.

During the trip we had to face various challenges, such as assembling pizzas, climbing unfathomably frightening constructions and showing no mercy in laser combat.  It was the most fun I’d had in ages.

We typically meet up once a year for various shenanigans.  I probably won’t get to see them again for a while now, on account of relocating to Japan and all, so I made sure to make the most of this trip.  I’ll take with me treasured memories of playing professional-level beer pong, the sound of Rick-Rolling air horns, and standing atop the Leap of Faith podium feeling like a powerful wizard.

At the end of the trip, we did the “love slug,” which is where you tape a piece of paper to your back and everyone writes anonymous words of kindness on it.  Reading my paper at home made me well-up with manly tears of joy, because I’ve been so lucky to accumulate so many great friends, and who knows when, or if, I’ll see them again.

Friends forever

It makes me realise the cost of moving to Japan isn’t just financial.  I’ve not just given up my job, my possessions, my comfort zone, but I’m leaving behind all my friends and family as well.  I’m even leaving behind my girlfriend.  There’s so much I’ll miss in Japan – so many friends and faces.  I don’t know a single person living in Japan, aside from people from a couple blogs and people in a Facebook group.  I’m not gonna lie – it feels pretty tough to go through with it.

But I know by leaving some friends behind, I’m opening myself up to meeting new ones.  New friends, new experiences and new memories.

The end of a chapter often feels bittersweet.

Matt Bowen

Matt is a blogger, budoka and software developer. He sold his things, quit his job and moved to Japan to study Japanese and martial arts. Sometimes he writes about it.

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