Due to my husband’s job, we have lived in four states over the last ten years, in four different parts of the country. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that our most recent move will not be our last.
While there were positive reasons behind each move, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that moving a lot sucks. The reason, though, is not the one that’s often assumed.
I get plenty of sympathy from people about how annoying it must be to frequently pack and unpack our things, to find new homes, to redecorate. They’re right. It is annoying. It’s also annoying to have to acclimate to new schools, doctors’ offices, and dance schools, to learn my way around unfamiliar streets, gyms, and grocery store aisles, and to adapt to different climates.
But none of that is what truly sucks.
What sucks is leaving my friends behind. We promise to keep in touch, and we do, but we know it’s never going to be the same. With each teary farewell, there’s the underlying knowledge that even if/when we see each other again, there will never be another text that says “Park tomorrow?” or “I’m about to lose it. Please come over…with wine.”
What sucks is knowing there’s no annual Memorial Day BBQ or 5K or Bachelor finale viewing party to anticipate. As things stand, there’s nothing annual about my life, except for my plants (I can’t even commit to a perennial).
What sucks is being replaced, or worse, forgotten.
Therefore, after this latest move, I approached friend-making with detachment. I don’t really care about making friends here, I told myself. I don’t need to meet anybody new. It’s just going to mean more sad goodbyes; more names to add to the list of “People I Wish I Could Hang Out With, But Can’t Because They Live a Plane Ride Away.”
My first instinct was to hole up, to close myself off, to show up when I had to and smile and exchange pleasantries (for the sake of the kids, I told myself), and then go back home and lose myself in books and TV and writing and putting photos on walls and pulling weeds.
When life gets lonely, I keep busy. Who has time for girlfriends anyway when the kids have so many activities and there’s so much dust in my house and there are so many to-do lists unfulfilled? Plus, I have my family. A good marriage and two sweet kids. That’s all I should really need to be happy. Right?
In time, I realized that I’m not me without them—all the women who have been and will be in my life. The women who’ve known me since childhood, for many years, or for just a few months. The women who’ve shared laughs, clothes, drinks, rants, insecurities, tears, hand sanitizer, and evites. The women who’ve sat with me in classrooms, locker rooms, and living rooms, on bleachers, around tables, and on countertops when all the furniture is gone and the moving van is pulling away.
Inevitably, I caved. I said “yes” to the lunches and the moms nights and the committees and to any opportunity to get together with other women and chat about anything and everything. With each gathering and each conversation, I felt a little lighter. This is going to make it so much harder to leave, I thought to myself. But this is also going to make it so much easier to live.