Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Losing Touch

It was a copy of People Magazine left by our recent houseguests that brought the point home: 

Living in the laidback Greek countryside, I've lost touch.  

Summer in an olive grove

People Magazine tells all there is to tell about America's celebrities and public figures. Problem was, that aside from 79-year-old Tom Selleck, most recently of television's Blue Bloods, and the recently deceased O.J. Simpson, I didn't recognize many of the names of those famous folks.

People Magazine - who is doing what and where

I've lost touch. It is as simple as that.

 And what I found most amazing about that realization was that I didn't care who these people were, nor did I care what they were doing when the paparazzi photographed them, even if it was while they grocery shopped or frolicked on some exotic holiday. 

Losing touch with the other world

Being an expat and losing touch with the everyday world you left behind, to a certain degree, go hand-in-hand.  

As American expats we've lost touch with the familiarity of doctors, dentists, and hairdressers we had visited for years. We've lost touch with routines of shopping at the corner supermarket, visiting the dry cleaner and filling the car with gas at the regular service station. But with each of those has come the challenge and exhilaration of creating new familiar and favorite routines in the Greek world.

What has been tough is losing touch with friends and family. 

We knew it could happen.  We'd read the articles about expat life and knew that losing connections with friends back home and loneliness can bring down the most enthused expat. Yet, as with all unpleasant possibilities, one reasons that it couldn't possibly happen in your world. 

Losing Touch

'Losing touch' with friends is quite a widespread phenomenon apparently experienced by many of the 230 million expats worldwide.  And with 18 percent of those expats being more than 61 years of age, they likely have a good number of friends and family with whom they want to keep in touch.

Loneliness is often cited as one of the most difficult aspects of expat life. The inability to make new friends and the absence of family and longtime friends are often the reason expats choose to return to their home country. 

Friends at Your Fingertips

So, when you look at the speed and ease of communication afforded by today's technology, there is really no excuse for losing touch, is there? 

With a scroll through Facebook and Instagram postings we are able to celebrate birthdays and holidays, graduations and weddings. We can share in the sorrow of loss and send well-wishes to those who are ill.  

US, Canada and Greece - we talk face-to-face twice a month on WhatsApp

WhatsApp, Facetime, Messenger and other such programs allow us to visit face-to-face with friends no matter where in the world they are living. And doing so is always a day-brightener!


Weekly email 'coffee klatches' keep us in touch

Even writing emails - now thought of by young people as a somewhat old-fashioned communications tool-- keeps us up-to-date with the comings and goings of friends.

Luckily, we have a cadre of dear friends who are committed to keeping in touch while we are in Greece. Several of us write emails as if we were visiting regularly together over coffee. We chat face-to-face with others. Skype has made texting together was easy as if we were just across town. 

Emails, photos and Skype keep these childhood friends together

Staying in touch is done both with precision regularity as well as at random out-of-the-blue contacts. Now, despite being thousands of miles apart, we are up to date with each other's lives, everyday activities, travel, health, even weather. 

As the years have passed my definition of 'staying in touch' has become so relaxed that it includes writing a comment on a FB or blog post. 

Poof! Just like that, they are not heard from again

Yet it has been with some incredulity that we've realized there are some -- thankfully, not a lot of --friends with whom we have simply lost touch.  Poof. Gone. No communication from them and no response to attempts to reach them.

Moving On

An article in Expatica.com, a website 'by expats for expats', offered an interesting take on losing touch: 

 'Don't be afraid of losing friends who won't or can't commit to keeping the connection. . .it gives you more time to invest in those who are willing to make the effort,' it offered.  

Reasoned one expat about the topic of lost friendships on Reddit, an American social news website, 'People's lives go on and you've moved a different direction. Many friendships are based on common experience and close proximity.'

'It's hard to stay in touch with all the friends we make through life. Scientific studies show we maintain 150 relationships at any given time in life,' wrote another.

One of the most obvious bits of advice offered to expats is to quit fretting over those who've dropped out of sight and make new friends.

Friends in the expat world

A meet up of multinational expats on Easter afternoon in the village
As of last year, according to the World Population Review, there were 23,297 American expats living in Greece.  The number pales in comparison to the 799,248 living in Mexico, but still, it seems like quite a few to those of us who are a part of that statistic.  

Morning coffee at the beach cafe with friends

In our slice of Greece, we have a diverse blend of expats friends including Americans who hail from the Pacific Northwest, California, the Southwest and Northeast.  Those from further afield hail from Canada, Belgium, Turkey, England and elsewhere.

Thankfully our expat life in the rural Peloponnese has been filled with new friends, both expats and Greeks. Although making friends takes time, just like it did back in the old world.  

We find that the lifestyle here probably has us socializing more with friends here than we did back in the States as logistics of getting together are so simple. 

An evening spent with neighbors is always a great evening

Our Stone House on the Hill is set amid eight other homes on a short stretch of road just outside the village. Our neighborhood is an international one with France, Britain, Peru, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and America represented. We are blessed that we are surrounded by kind and caring people and that we have all become friends.

 Silver and Gold

A toast to lasting friendships - old and new

Back in the 1960's Girl Scouts in America had a song they'd sing around a campfire that was a simple ditty with a powerful message:

 'Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.'  

It could be the theme song for expats. 

And with that thought we close for this week and send wishes for safe travels to you and yours.  We are heading off on an adventure. . .one that we said we'd 'never do' and yet here we are doing it! We will tell you about it next time!


  1. I've always been of the belief that friends come and go. It is not right or wrong. They might have just been there for a reason, a point in time, when you needed them. When we moved just 200 kms away in our early 20s we lost most of our childhood friends. Perhaps we didn't make the effort to stay in touch, perhaps they didn't. But it happened, and new friends took their place. It takes effort to stay in touch when you move. Some friends you might not see for years and then when you do it is like no time had passed at all. These are the special keepers. I enjoy your slices of life from Greece. Happy and safe travels and enjoy the summer!

    1. Thanks for the observations about friendship. We have had many come and go as you've described. We always wonder about those who 'disappear' but I guess they certainly aren't wondering about us, or they'd have gotten in touch! Chapters open and close, don't they? Happy and safe travels to you as well!

  2. I believe it also has to do with individuals. Some value friendships more than others. My family moved to the States from Malaysia when I was a teenager. Out of six siblings, I was the only one who kept in touch with my friends, most of whom were classmates since the first grade. Several years ago, a dozen of us met in Bangkok to celebrate our 60th birthday. Similarly, we have college friends and work colleagues that we meet from time to time.

    After living on a boat for 23 years, we have met lots of people from all walks of life. Some became good friends, and we still keep in touch even after they moved back to land.

    I love this saying "Friends are your chosen family."

    Do the U.S. expats in Greece celebrate the Fourth? Have a great summer!


    1. Eileen, thank you for the lovely thought: friends are your chosen family. It certainly rings true for a number of friends. And I do agree with your observation that some value friendships more than others. I am not sure what all US expats do in Greece on the Fourth of July. We are not celebrating it, as it is a regular day here and we have a list of things that must get accomplished. Again thanks for your lovely thoughts!


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