It's amazing how much can change in such a short amount of time.
New people moving in to the city, old people leaving, making new friends just in time to say goodbye, dealing with Summer-Mongolia again only with a slightly more jaded outlook this time around, planning for the next steps while trying to understand all the steps that brought you here.
In the last few weeks or so there have been a lot of new foreigners moving into the city and the expat circle. They seem so bright and hopeful. They haven't experienced a winter or the pollution yet, they haven't been accosted on the street, or had to detour around the city to avoid nationalist marchers, they haven't explored and found all of the hidden treasures the city has to offer, they haven't had to deal with hoards of street children, they haven't met all the amazing people that have already left, they haven't been able to participate in the neverending rounds of house parties that keep the winter warm, they haven't tasted airag or had to deal with overpowering revulsion to mutton...And, that's all in one year. I can't imagine all of the other treats (and tricks) in store for the longer term. It's odd to think that very shortly this will no longer be my city, it will be somebody else's city. And, while I could always come back - it will never be the same as the first time. It won't offer the same things, it won't be the same, I won't be the same, and it's very possible that all of the people I love here that have made this experience awesome will be scattered around the world. It's like leaving Athens - it will always be an amazing place. But, it's not a place I can ever really return to. Now it's someone else's city.
Why does it always seem that you run into a good thing just as it has to end? Meeting amazing people at international conference, finding a best friend the last semester of university before you move across the world, falling in love in the last minutes of the movies... Do you jump into these relationships deeper because of the time constraint or to you leave well enough alone? Sure, it's great while it lasts. But, what is it worth? There's a great quote that I've found has an interesting application to friendships: "Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires." -Francois de la Rochefoucauld. Over the last year I have found certain friendships strengthened or rekindled largely because of the distance between us. We had to be stronger friends because that was the only option. And, that's great. But, what if you don't want to start fanning the flame because you're afraid it's going to blow out? Sure it's okay in the long run, but what about now? What if you don't want to go through losing another friend? While I love traveling and meeting fabulous people from all over the world, I can't help but be a little jealous of those who get to keep all of their loved ones in one location.
Even in work everything is in a state of flux. For my team, our job now consists of finishing projects while trying to summarize everything that happened professionally in the last year so that the next team is better prepared to face the year ahead of them. Wrapping up all of our handiwork and giving it over the the next team with the hopes that they will take care of our projects, our members, our efforts and surpass everything that we were able to accomplish. Not only that, but now we have to find some closure and meaning from the last 11 months that will make it easier to leave the 2 other people that have made the entire year easier, more fun, and totally worth it. When you travel people talk about culture shock and homesickness. But, how do you deal with the startling change for going from spending nearly every working and waking hour with the same people to being continents apart? How are we supposed to jump from one such intense experience straight in to the next? How does that not mess with a person? And, while we are working on wrapping up the last messy, chaotic, amazing, ridiculous year so that we can move on we are each trying to jump start the next phase of our lives with little or no break in between. Talk about changes.
Even something as simple as the weather can change amazingly fast. From +20C yesterday morning, to -11C today and tomorrow is supposed to be back to +21C. Summer to snow in the space of 7 hours.
Thank you Mongolia.