when good friends move

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via anotherporch.blogspot.com

Probably our worst fight—maybe, really, our only fight?—happened just before you moved to California. You told me that I was the only one of your friends who wasn’t being supportive about the move. Man, that pissed me off.

But you were probably right. You were right. I wasn’t the least bit supportive. In the weeks leading up to your Bon Voyage, I brought up all the things about California that suck—you know, in an off-hand, jokey sort of a way. As if the crowded Costcos would convince you to stay in Kansas forever.

My motive was simple: your moving would not be cool for me. You would get to go off to a new land and a new house and a new adventure, back to the beaches and palm trees and In-N-Out Burgers that I was still missing in Kansas. And I would still be here, except it would be a little bit worse because I would have no one to try and convince me to smoke hookah with her. And even though you should have felt the teensiest bit flattered that I like you so much, I know that I was being really selfish. And I was wrong, even though I was right about the Costcos.

Not yet two years later, I find myself in a similar position. One of my closest friends, Megan, just got a job in Indianapolis, and I feel like the selfish girl who can’t see past her own issues to be happy for this exciting new stage of life that awaits my friend and her family. This one hits particularly hard, as Megan used to live right down the street from me. She stayed home with her kids, who are close in age to my kids, and we’d have play dates or go to the grocery store together or take walks. Before that, she was there when both of my children were born. And before that, she and her husband and me and my husband would get together every week to eat dinner and watch LOST.  Now, I know you’re not a big TV watcher, but people who ARE know that people who share LOST with you are special people indeed.

We had this easy sort of rhythm going where we could walk into each other’s houses without knocking. We never needed a big event to get together, or even a “company-worthy” meal. We knew where things like the extra toilet paper were kept. We preferred if you didn’t call and instead just stopped by.

Probably most of my anxiety about your move, and about Megan’s move, comes from my own feeling that I’m not quite settled yet. We moved to Kansas for Scott to go to school. We thought he’d finish school and then we’d be back in California, where both of us had grown up. That didn’t happen. I went to graduate school. Scott got a job. We got pregnant.

Our situation is not abnormal. The average number of times a person changes jobs now is up to twelve or thirteen times in a lifetime. Our culture is a mobile one; we are all on the go—sometimes out of desire, sometimes out of necessity. We are people who change locations, jobs, dentists, pediatricians, churches, yoga classes, favorite coffee shops. (For some reason, we tend not to change hair stylists. At least I don’t. Not unless I have to. Please don’t make me.)

I’ve been reading a book called The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. The author, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, has this to say on the subject:

Staying, we all know, is not the norm in our mobile culture. A great deal of money is spent each day to create desires in each of us that can never be fulfilled. I suspect that much of our restlessness is a return on this investment. Mobility has a large marketing budget […] But I am convinced that we lose something essential to our existence as creatures if we do not recognize our fundamental need for stability. Trees can be transplanted, often with magnificent results. But their default is to stay.

I don’t blame you or Megan for moving any more than I blame Scott and me for the decision to move away from our own family and friends six years ago. Of course not.  Moves like these are part of our lives—sometimes magnificently so. But I do long for stability and for a place, probably because I know how valuable it is to have it—even for a little while.

But maybe that’s a benefit to our mobile culture? A silver lining? The ability to see and appreciate good friends who never have to knock. The stability that we do have, even amid all the movement.

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9 thoughts on “when good friends move

  1. Oh, how I relate to this, Katie. Since my husband and I have moved every 2 years since we got married, I am now just DYING for stability and friends (including myself!) that don’t move. And I loved your comment about friends who watch LOST together. So, so true. 🙂

  2. I have been here, and I have also tried to deny letting life put me here. By that, I mean that I have intentionally avoided cultivating friendships with people whom I felt a connection with but whom I knew were specifically planning to move. I have also intentionally avoided cultivating friendships with people about whom I even had the tiniest inkling of suspicion that they might move, maybe, someday, eventually.

    And maybe being a Nazarene – or connected to Nazarenes – in Kansas City makes this worse than it is in other places, a city where Nazarenes come for the sole purpose of being temporary and transient, or maybe it truly is happening everywhere – but it is indeed difficult to share and give and love, only to have it stripped away and unable to be replaced.

    However, I have decided, for myself, to apply the it-is-better-to-have-loved-and-lost principle to my situations. I even use it as a mantra sometimes, when it’s hard to remember why I should keep making new friends. My life is so much richer and fuller for the friendships I have cultivated, even the ones that are not everyday friendships anymore, or common-geography friendships anymore. It is fun to tell stories about my old friends to my new friends, and it is fun to reminisce with my old friends about our old times. And, likewise, it is fun to MAKE new friends, and get to know new people, and hear new stories, and re-tell old stories to people who haven’t heard them yet. And I have finally convinced myself that life would be less fun if I weren’t able to reminisce, and that it’s infinitely more worth it to have my heart ache a little (or a lot) during a reminiscence than to have my heart ache and go numb because there is nothing to remember.

    Also, an upside for anyone who loves traveling as much as I do: free room & board when you’re on vacation. I don’t know if that is as big of a deal to people who aren’t single & struggling financially, or to people who are going to get rich and famous from writing funny/awesome books that get re-titled with every printing, but it’s still worth mentioning, right? And, you have a reason to visit what might otherwise be boring places on vacation. (Like, who wants to visit Indiana? Well, now YOU do!)

  3. Pingback: other people’s lives | [writing] between friends

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