There are people who come into your life just at the right moment. Living a nomadic life is wonderful but also difficult. You open up new horizons for yourself and your family, but you also lose touch with your base. Friendships are precious, curious things. You feel nervous (like it's a first date), you want to impress and fit in. You get close to people but you always remember that it is only for a certain time. The ties you make are strong for a while then fade depending on the rhythm of your postings. When you return, it's not always easy to fit back in your gang. So much has happened to them and to you while you were away.
But then, certain ties made abroad are forever. Because of shared experience. You don't have to explain to them why it was hard for you to adapt to this new country because they have gone through it themselves. You can share the fact that you feel completely confused in your role as mother, wife, woman, partner; because they know the pressure you feel having to abandon it all to start anew somewhere else.
These women have shown resilience through hard times. Annie-Claude who holds Charlie (the rainbow baby whom we met just today) has gone through the loss of her first child Mathilde and come out of that dark tunnel as one of the most honest and strong women I know. She advocates for the end of the taboo that surrounds infant loss. We shared tears and joy and anger and silence and screams through that year and distance and time hasn't changed our bond. Jo has had to adapt countless times to her changing identity as a woman and mother. Like me, she has had to reinvent herself to find who she is and to be strong enough to accept these changes and their impact on our families.
As our departure for Beijing looms ahead, I know that these women and my girls (from portrait 11) are my base, the ones who will see me through. They are my chosen family and I love them.